Eyes are said to be the window of the soul… In fact, it seems that this is also true for the brain.
Indeed, eye examination may soon become the simplest and cheapest way to establish a precise diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease.
Why? Because eyes, thanks to their neurons, are in some way an extension of the brain.
One of the first detectable signs of Alzheimer's disease is the accumulation of amyloid-beta protein aggregates in the brain.
These aggregates begin to form 15 to 20 years prior to the onset of the first symptoms of the disease.
And they can be detected through brain imaging or lumbar puncture: two costly and invasive methods.
A retina examination should be simpler to perform, and several research groups around the world are currently testing this approach.
The idea: take a series of pictures of the retina and analyze these using a computer to verify for the presence of aggregates.
Alternatively, a team of British researchers evaluated the thickness of the retina.
They discovered that people who had memory problems had a thinner retina, compared to those without memory problems.
So don’t be surprised if you are offered this kind of test the next time you visit an optometrist.
Scientists are currently validating these technologies, and they should soon be available.