A study has shown new technology can quickly and non-invasively detect reduced blood capillaries in the back of the eye that are an early indication of Alzheimer's. It also shows that these signs can help distinguish between Alzheimer's and MCI.
The study compared the retinas of 39 Alzheimer's patients, 37 people with MCI, and 133 cognitively healthy people. The Alzheimer's group had loss of small retinal blood vessels at the back of the eye and a specific layer of the retina was thinner when compared to people with MCI and healthy people. The differences in density were statistically significant after researchers controlled for factors including age and sex.
It's been known that patients with Alzheimer's had decreased retinal blood flow and vessel density but it had not been known if these changes were also present in individuals with early Alzheimer's or aMCI.
Larger datasets are required to validate the marker.