In a recent study, researchers found that small opacities covering blood vessels in the retina (called retinal amyloid plaque) are an indicator of early-stage Alzheimer’s disease. These findings are pretty amazing, because caregivers, families, and patients could receive an earlier diagnosis and take action to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s. In addition, there is currently no standard test to diagnose Alzheimer’s so looking at the eyes could be a major development in combating a disease that is becoming more prevalent every year.
How prevalent, you ask? Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States and affects more than five million Americans. And that is a number that is expected to grow, in fact, it’s been estimated this number could exceed 15 million by the year 2050. Luckily, medicines that slow the progression of Alzheimer’s have improved in recent years and being able to identify Alzheimer’s at an earlier stage could slow memory loss and cognitive changes and extend patients’ life spans by years.