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If you don't know anyone with Alzheimer's disease that may change because ten million baby boomers will be diagnosed in the coming years.

This devastating disease destroys memory, changes behavior and robs people of the ability to think.

If you're diagnosed early it can slow the progression of Alzheimer's but so far there's no single test for it. Only an autopsy of the brain gives a positive diagnosis. That's why clinical trials of a new diagnostic tool are so exciting. It showed that your eyes hold the answer.

What happens with Alzheimer's patients is that certain neurons in the brain begin to die. And neurons are what help us think, remember and feel. While the exact cause for why they die is unknown, it may be the accumulation of an altered form of a protein called beta amyloid in and around the neurons.

The new research discovered Alzheimer's is not just in the brain, it's a systemic disease.

That means it affects other organs and most systemic diseases show up in the eyes. The researchers found that the same beta amyloid proteins in the brain also appear at the edge of the lens of the eye.

Two optical tests are now being developed.

They involve a low-intensity laser that briefly sends low-power light into the eye. It's safe and not uncomfortable.

In one test, a device detects any scattering of the light which would happen if small clumps of beta amyloid are present.

In the second test a fluorescent dye is injected into the eye to bind to the proteins.

When you shine an infrared light, they glow confirming Alzheimer's disease.

In the lab, these new tests on mice detected beta amyloid proteins long before they were found in the brain. Phase III clinical trials begin next year and the test is expected to be inexpensive at just around three hundred dollars.

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For more information…

For a summary of the newly developed diagnostic to detect Alzheimer's Disease by examining the eye and a very nice video to explain how it works.
For more information…

A good explanation of the new test in layman's language can be found here and here.

The Alzheimer's Association has an extensive website about this devastating disease. This site is an excellent source of information about the disease, its causes, treatment options, information about resources available for those diagnosed with the disorder and for their caregivers.
For more information…

MedlinePlus brings together authoritative information from NLM, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and other government agencies and health-related organizations. MedlinePlus also has extensive information about drugs, an illustrated medical encyclopedia, interactive patient tutorials, and latest health news.
For more information…

The National Institute on Aging offers a free Alzheimer's Fact Sheet.

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke has an informational page with an extensive list of organizations that can be of help. They also have listings of publications and clinical trials of new treatments as well as news and information about research in the field here.

 
 

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