The Eyes Could Be The Window To Alzheimer's Disease, New Study Finds

mbg Contributor By Elizabeth Gerson
mbg Contributor
Elizabeth Gerson is a former mindbodygreen intern and a student at Stanford University studying Psychology and Communication with a specialization in Health & Development.
The Eyes Could Be The Window To Alzheimer's Disease, New Study Finds

Image by Alexey Kuzma / Stocksy

The typical process for diagnosing Alzheimer's isn't a fun one. It often takes years of monitoring cognitive decline, brain scans, or intensely painful procedures like extracting spinal fluid. However, new research may have found the next breakthrough in pinpointing early signs of the disease, no pain or inconvenience required.

Research out of the Duke Eye Center found that the density of blood vessels in the eye differs between those with the neurodegenerative disease and those without it. In a person with a normal, healthy brain, blood vessels in the retina are plentiful. For those with Alzheimer's, the same vessels are sparse and lacking in different areas.

This correlation could mean big things for the future of Alzheimer's diagnoses. What was previously an unpleasant, drawn-out process could now be completed in a quick, routine eye exam.

And just because it's quick doesn't mean it's imprecise. The technology, called an OCTA scan, used to review the eye, even picks up on the blood flow of tiny capillaries smaller than the width of half a human hair.

Technology like this will be key in picking up on the disease before it's too late and even before any signs of Alzheimer's are present at all. Although the disease more frequently takes hold as we age, taking preventive measures against it can begin long before our golden years.

For starters, following some pretty tried-and-true wellness habits like eating your greens and getting a good night's sleep can help. One study even found that quality of sleep is greater than quantity for protecting your brain, making it all the more important to make sleeping soundly a priority.

Alzheimer's may take a hefty emotional and physical toll, but thanks to research and diagnosis developments like that of studies like these, a cure for the condition may be well within our sights.

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