Latest News » Smell and vision tests could be early detectors for Alzheimer’s disease

A vision test could be used to help diagnose Alzheimer's disease early.

One of the predominant factors in what makes Alzheimer's disease so prevalent is that the condition isn't diagnosable until its later stages, by which point it's too late for any real treatment. However, new studies point to vision and smell as two possible early indicators of the disease, which could help pave the way for better treatment solutions in the future.

According to a press release published at the 2014 Alzheimer's Association International Conference (AAIC), held in Copenhagen, Denmark, a "decreased ability to identify odors" and "the level of beta-amyloid detected in the eye" were both found to be significantly linked to the progression of Alzheimer's disease and degeneration of brain cells. The latter test was particularly telling, as beta-amyloid is a protein associated with the "plaque" that builds within the brain as part of the disease.

"In the face of the growing worldwide Alzheimer's disease epidemic, there is a pressing need for simple, less invasive diagnostic tests that will identify the risk of Alzheimer's much earlier in the disease process," Heather Snyder, director of Medical and Scientific Operations for the Alzheimer's Association, said in the press release. "[T]hese four studies reported at AAIC point to possible methods of early detection in a research setting to choose study populations for clinical trials of Alzheimer's treatments and preventions."

While these studies don't offer any definitive, conclusively proven associations between loss of smell, beta-amyloid build-up in the eyes and dementia progression, these findings are nevertheless very promising developments in the fight against Alzheimer's disease.

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