How Regular Dental and Eye Checks Reduce Dementia
How Regular Dental and Eye Checks Reduce Dementia, Alzheimer’s is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that can have serious consequences for the sufferer and his/her family. Early detection can make it easier to cope with the symptoms and the onset of this disease. But how do people test for dementia like Alzheimer’s? Apart from viewing the memory loss and additional symptoms, the state of your eyes and your teeth could be the clues to whether Alzheimer’s is about to set in. Read on to know more about how the disease such as dementia can be detected using eye and dental checkups.
According to studies, a simple eye test results in early detection of Alzheimer’s disease before symptoms like memory loss develop. The test for change in eyes can have a serious impact on early detection of Alzheimer’s. According to research by the Australian Commonwealth Science and Industrial Research Organization, when used along with blood testing that spots changes linked with the development of Alzheimer’s disease. This non invasive cost effective test is the perfect tool for early and reliable detection o Alzheimer’s. This is as per the Alzheimer Association International Conference held in the year 2011. Considering that 5.4 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease, it is counted as the most common form of dementia.
Imaging scans use PET or positron emission tomography and MRI to detect brain modifications associated with Alzheimer’s dementia before the memory loss and additional disorder symptoms are possible. But these are costly and not suited for a wide range of population. Retina tissues are closely linked to the brain. The retina is the part of the eye which is sensitive to light. Closely related to brain tissues, these are much easier to access. In one study, retinal snaps of those with Alzheimer’s was tested against those with milder cognitive problems and healthy people in research on aging.The subjects also underwent the PET scans to measure Alzheimer’s linked plaque formation in the brain.
Researchers used cams that eye doctors apply for evaluating patient’s eyes, along with special software to measure the characteristics of blood vessels in the retina apart from their width.
The study showed that certain types of blood vessels had a width considerably different in those with Alzheimer’s to other participants and the variance was the same as the plaque amount seen on the scans. A close link exists between Alzheimer’s disease, retinal changes and aggregation of plaque in the brain.
This is, however, not the only eye test for developing a detection system for Alzheimer’s. Harvard scientists have developed optical tests looking for amyloid beta which is a protein that constitutes Alzheimer’s plaque in the lens of the eye. Researchers have been looking at how the onset of the disease can be predicted with molecular changes in the eye structure. Another question people need to find an answer to is whether they are at risk for the disease, which can only be managed, not cured.
Sans early detection, even treatment and management becomes harder. Some promising drugs may fail in research as the studies involved people at advanced stages of Alzheimer’s. As doctors work towards preventing and treating the disease, the pieces of the puzzle need to be put together and this is why early detection is critical.
Therefore, those concerned that they may be developing early signs of dementia should ask eye doctors to have a look during a regular exam. Studies at the International Conference of Alzheimer’s Association in Danish city of Copenhagen indicate Alzheimer’s disease may show up when it comes to the eyes. This could offer prompt treatment and management, apart from giving patients a chance to plan their lives. There are also treatments for symptoms that are more impactful if they are implemented early in the disease process.
Current clinical tests for Alzheimer’s only find the disease when it is at a fairly advanced stage. These include studying deviance in level of proteins in the spinal fluid, brain MRI scans and brain PET amyloid imaging. These are invasive and can be costly. In the context of a growing epidemic, there is need for less advanced, less invasive diagnostic tests that indicate the risk of Alzheimer’s disease in earlier stages, as the disease advances. Treatments are to be included when they are still useful.
This form of dementia results from the aggregation and excessive collection of plaques of beta amyloid in the brain. Research also indicates these proteins can built up in the eye, along the optic nerve from the brain. Researchers also tested 40 patients using a curcumin supplement that attaches to beta amyloid and is fluorescent, and a new imaging system. The testing process correctly detected each of the patients and ruled out those who do not have the dementia. So in addition to brain PET imaging, clinical tests and MRI imaging, further research shows a regular eye check-up can be the signal needed to find out more about the neural disease.
Proteins also build up in the retina, which is unlike any other eye structure. It has a crucial role to play in sharing features of the brain because it is part of the central nervous system. Plaque staining using curcumin ensures it is detected in the retina much before it accumulates in the brain. The device developed enables a look at the eyes to diagnose and see changes.
In another approach involving the eyes, the researchers used a laser type scanner to detect the abnormal beta amyloid accumulation in the eye’s lens. This found that in people with probable Alzheimer’s disease and age matched healthy volunteers showed differences in retinal aggregation of beta amyloid in the correct proportion. Additionally, the test accurately detected 85% of Alzheimer patients and ruled out 95 percent of healthy individuals.