Alzheimer’s is a disease that causes progressive mental deterioration and ultimately leads to dementia or senility. Researchers are virtually on the breakthrough of detecting the disease before any symptoms occur. This technology is used to look behind the eyes for early signs of the illness. As of now, tests performed on mice which have intentionally been exposed to the disease, have shown changes in their retinas and is leading to further research. Clinical trials are expected to begin soon.
Early detection is twofold in its discovery. The first reason being that treatment could be more effective if started earlier than the first sign of the onset of neurological signs, and secondly, the drugs used for the treatment of the disease are not accurate and effective in testing the effectiveness of the early onset of Alzheimer’s. By discovering an early diagnostic tool, it could result in the development of more effective medication. The retina is attached to the brain and the central part of the nervous system (which is the area most affected by Alzheimer’s), and by using the new technology, it enables scientists to look through the retina and determine early signs of the disease.
The new technology has identified changes in the retinas of the mice inflicted with Alzheimer’s prior to any neurological symptoms surfacing associated with the disease. It is the ambition of these researchers to develop new techniques to enhance the functioning of the brain in people diagnosed in the early stages of the disease, thereby prolonging brain function and delaying the onslaught of the debilitating illness.
Millions of people worldwide are afflicted with Alzheimer’s which affects the once sharp memories of patients and is responsible for both mental and physical disabilities. People stricken with the disease no longer thrive, are unable to live normal, functioning lives and lose most of their cognitive skills.
According to the American Alzheimer’s report for 2016, it is the 6th leading cause of death in America with around five million people living with the disease. The medical costs for Alzheimer’s treatment for this year will be in excess of $236 billion, reaching to an incredible $1 trillion by the year 2050, with more people dying from the disease than prostrate and breast cancer together.