New Eye Exams Could Test for Alzheimer’s Symptoms

Researchers in England are excited to report new findings that may shed light on new methods to test for early symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. Although the results of their research are preliminary, they offer potential new methods to easily test for the devastating illness in its early stages.

Eye Tracking Key to Alzheimer'sEye Tracking Testing

In the tests, researchers from Lancaster University had a group of patients follow light movements on a computer. Patients were then asked to look away from the light in the opposite direction. Study participants in the early stages of Alzheimer’s had difficulty following the simple instructions of the test and were not able to look away from the light. Despite repeated corrections, the Alzheimer’s patients were unable to make adjustments and perform the eye tracking correctly. In contrast, when they were looking at the light on the computer, they did not have problems following instructions.

Memory function is often the first symptom of Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers hypothesize that short lapses in memory occur, making it hard for patients to complete all of the testing required by traditional neuropsychological testing that has been traditionally used to diagnose the illness. Since the memory networks of the brain are affected, patients find it difficult to remember the spacial position of things like the location of a light source.

Researchers and doctors have been searching for alternative methods to test patients for Alzheimer’s disease in order to begin treatment as early in the illness as possible. With a simple eye test, it may become possible to catch Alzheimer’s and delay the onset of symptoms.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, the illness strikes one in eight adults in the United States. It is estimated that approximately 5.4 million people in this country have the illness, with about 45 percent of people over the age of 85 having it. Alzheimer’s is characterized by dementia, with dramatic and often devastating memory impairment.

– The Alternative Daily

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