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Alzheimer’s Disease May Be Detected Early Through A Simple Eye Exam; Is Prevention Possible?

Update Date: Nov 22, 2016 10:20 AM EST

There is strong evidence that the presence of the tau oligmer, which causes Alzheimer's Disease may be detected in an inexpensive and simple eye test. Medical researchers hope that the new study will pave the way for the development of drugs specifically in arresting and preventing the onset of AD.

A study was conducted by researchers from the University of Texas, Galveston (UTMB) on the link between a toxic protein and Alzheimer's. The UTMB researchers discovered that the tau protein can turn toxic, thereby causing inflammation to various regions of the brain.

The tau protein plays an important role in brain development and function. These proteins build highways that transport nutrients to the cells and waste from it as reported in Psych Central. However, the tau protein has been known to turn toxic and become tau oligmer, which has destructive effects on the brain.

The tau oligmers create tangles in neuro-fibers, which hamper molecules to go where they need to be. Once the molecules are trapped, inflammation occurs, which spread throughout the brain as more tau oligmers create more tangles.

The researchers discovered that these tau oligmers can be detected in a simple eye exam through a process called hyperspectral imaging as reported in Medical Daily. This involves shining a bright light in the eye that reaches all the way to the retina, then reflecting the image on a special device.

The UTMB researchers discovered that tau oligmers can be detected upon thorough analyses of brain and examination of retinas of those patients with Alzheimer's Disease. Their findings could pave the way for the development of drugs specifically to arrest the progression of the disease and prevent neurological damage.

As of present, there is very few research on drugs that could prevent the onset of Alzheimer's Disease because tests cannot be performed. Most drugs for AD are for those patients who exhibit neurological signs, meaning they are at the advanced state of Alzheimer's.

With a simple eye exam, doctors will now be able to screen for Alzheimer's Disease without burdening the pockets or stressing their patients. Furthermore, the inexpensive and non-invasive eye exam may be included in the annual medical exams to prevent the debilitating effects of Alzheimer's Disease.

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