Can you tell if I will get Alzheimer’s disease?

Fox news reported last week that your eye exam could also detect Alzheimer’s disease. They are referring to this study that was just published in Ophthalmology Retina.

Tell me about the study.
The study used OCTA to compare the retinal microvasculature between three groups of patients:
1. Patients with Alzheimer’s disease (90 eyes).
2. Patients with mild cognitive impairment (79 eyes).
3. Normal healthy controls (249 eyes).

What vasculature did they look at?
They took 3 x 3mm and 6 x 6mm sections centered around the fovea. The OCTA software analyzed the vessel density (VD) and perfusion density (PD). They also acquired a 512 x 128 macular cube and 200 x  200 optic disc cube to be analyzed.

What did they find?
The authors found a significantly decreased VD and PD in Alzheimer’s participants when compared with both mild cognitive impairment and control participants.

How can OCTA and early detection help if there is no treatment?
Two things to mention here:
1. Diagnosing Alzheimer’s can be difficult – MRI’s are expensive and spinal taps are invasive. The OCTA is easy to perform and could serve as a screening.
2. Early diagnosis will allow researchers to study new medications earlier as future treatments may be more effective when given early. Earlier diagnosis would also give patients and their families time to plan for the future. (via)

This news comes along side a report that dementia-related deaths have tripled in the U.S.