Call over potential cataracts and Alzheimer's link

Published Date: 14 Sep 12

A simple eye test could one day be used to determine whether someone is in the early stages of Alzheimer's, researchers have suggested.

American scientists said they have found a connection between cortical cataracts, a common disease of the eyes, and brain degeneration linked to Alzheimer's.

This suggests dementia might develop outside of the brain and be linked to the body as a whole, the researchers from the Boston University Schools of Medicine said.

Researchers looked at brain MRI scans performed at least ten years after people underwent eye exams. They concluded there was a link between cortical cataracts and Alzheimer's related measures of brain degeneration.

They then carried out a genome wide association study of nearly 190,000 DNA sequence variations, focusing on a protein called delta catenin thought to be linked to brain and eye development. Further research found increased deposits of it in lens tissue from people who had Alzheimer's but not from those who did not.

Professor Lindsay Farrer, of Boston University Schools of Medicine, said: "This study gives hope that we are moving toward earlier diagnosis and new treatment targets for this debilitating disease."

The latest research paves the way for ever more diverse eye tests in the future, but those wanting cover for regular sight tests can find financial peace of mind with a cash plan.

The research was published online in the journal PLoS ONE.

Copyright Press Association 2012

Verena Vogt

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