Can eye exam diagnose Alzheimer’s early?

The suspicion of Alzheimer’s occurs through medical consultations, medical history analysis and some exams. But the confirmation of the disease can only be done by analyzing a piece of the patient’s brain tissue after he dies.

Now, a new study has shown that Alzheimer’s can also be diagnosed early with a simple vision exam.

The researchers found that the blood vessels at the back of the eye may be associated with the development of the disease when they are reduced in size , that is, smaller than normal.

Read more: Alzheimer’s: memory loss and vision problems are symptoms of the disease

It is believed that this discovery, if validated by the scientific community, can be used to indicate which people are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s in the future.

Until then, it was known that people with Alzheimer’s have less blood flow in their eyes, but it was not known that this also happens to those who have a tendency to develop the disease.

For this research, a new technology called OCT angiography was used that detects the conditions of blood vessels or capillaries, as they are also known.

How the eye can help

It seems complex, but, in summary, the relationship is simple, because in this case the eye works as a “mirror” that reflects how the brain is doing.

The technology could be deployed in several clinics helping to diagnose Alzheimer’s and other mental illnesses.

The examination allows the entire eye to be studied in a non-invasive way, that is, without having to pierce or cut the patient.

The study was done at Northwestern Medicine University in the United States and published in the scientific journal PLOS ONE.

The main risk factor for Alzheimer’s is age. According to the Brazilian Alzheimer’s Association (ABRAz), after the age of 65, the risk of developing the disease doubles every five years more.

ABRAz also warns: 10% of the cases of the disease in Brazil are caused simply by genetic and hereditary factors.

Therefore, people who have a family history of Alzheimer’s should look for ways to mitigate the development of the disease through mental activities (board games, for example).

If in doubt, consult a neurologist.


This new discovery allows new resources for diagnosis and treatment to be developed for degenerative diseases.

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