Eye exam 'could diagnose Alzheimer's'

Eye exam 'could diagnose Alzheimer's'

A US company has begun clinical trials of a non-invasive eye test that may be able to detect the early stages of Alzheimer's.

Cognoptix has launched a trial of the Sapphire II exam, which it claims can measure the level of amyloid-beta proteins present in the eye.

These toxic substances are key indicators of Alzheimer's disease and grow simultaneously in the optical organ and the brain.

Patients who undergo the eye exam simply apply a layer of ointment over the eyelid the night before it is due to take place and an operator takes an image of the inner eye.

The process is believed to be quicker and much more cost-effective than a brain scan, which is the alternative when looking for proof of the condition.

Paul Hartung, chief executive of the firm, said: "There is no early-stage, non-invasive diagnostic test for Alzheimer's disease in the market."

As a result, Mr Hartung stated patients are often diagnosed through a "process of elimination" and can experience significant cognitive decline during this time. It is hoped the eye exam will be able to identify the disease earlier and allow patients to receive treatment to slow the progress of the condition.

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