Combating Alzheimer’s through Ophthalmology: Research and Innovations


Combating Alzheimer’s through Ophthalmology: Research and Innovations

Dr. Margaret Flanagan, MD, a neuropathologist at UT Health San Antonio, is researching a non-invasive test that could help in the fight against dementia. She explained that the retina is an extension of the brain, as it looks very similar to the brain under a microscope. Research has shown that amyloid beta plaques, which are linked to Alzheimer’s, can also be found in the retina.

The University of Minnesota researchers have developed a retina scanner that can detect amyloid beta in the eye, indicating changes in the brain. Dr. Flanagan validated these findings by quantifying the amyloid beta using digital pathology. The ultimate goal is to make this scan available to everyone during routine eye exams, allowing people to detect possible dementia-related changes before irreversible damage occurs.

Dr. Flanagan envisions a future where individuals can easily get a quick picture of their eye for $20 to $30, providing insights into potential risk factors for dementia. This early detection could lead to earlier treatments and interventions, ultimately improving patient outcomes. The research being conducted at UT Health San Antonio has the potential to transform medical practices worldwide and advance the treatment of dementia.

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