An eye test for Alzheimers? Would you want to know?

Reply Mon 18 Jan, 2010 10:58 am
The eye test would provide a quick, easy, cheap and highly-accurate diagnosis.

It exploits the fact that the light-sensitive cells in the retina at the back of the eye are a direct extension of the brain.

Using eye drops which highlight diseased cells, the UCL researchers showed for the first time in a living eye that the amount of damage to cells in the retina directly corresponds with brain cell death.

They have also pinpointed the pattern of retinal cell death characteristic of Alzheimer's. So far their diagnosis has been right every time.
With research showing that cells start to die ten to 20 years before the symptoms of Alzheimer's become evident, it could allow people to be screened in middle age for signs of the disease.

However, some may not want to know their fate so far in advance. There is also the fear that insurance companies could increase premiums for those who test positive while still young.


This is pretty exciting news.

But even a middle-aged person whose father suffered from early-onset Alzheimer's I don't know if I could bear to know unless there was some way to ward off the disease.

How about you?

Also, from the insurance angle -- will we reach a point where nobody will be insurable due to early testing?

For example: what happens when a fetus tests positive for some abnomality -- is the eventual baby insurable?

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Reply Mon 18 Jan, 2010 11:15 am
I thought there was some methods to slow the progress of the disease even now! Also, if you were diagnosed as a high risk for alz., then perhaps you could get in on early treatment experiments (could be good or bad, I suppose). I'd definitely want to know.
Reply Mon 18 Jan, 2010 11:17 am
There's the insurance revision underway now - here's hoping the overhaul goes through so that we can all start to reap benefits from this sort of testing.
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Reply Mon 18 Jan, 2010 12:08 pm
I know I usually look at the dark side of things like this, but...

I don't see anything good coming from this until health "insurance" and risk assessment are part of our ugly past.
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Reply Mon 18 Jan, 2010 12:19 pm
I think this is a a god thing for those who also show early signs but doctors don't have enough to go on. Talking to the doctors soon about this.
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Reply Mon 18 Jan, 2010 03:50 pm
Eye-drops reach your RETINA?????
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Reply Mon 18 Jan, 2010 04:00 pm
I had read this, saved it in my files, but would rather not take the test. My mother's family is a serious alzheimer's cluster group - it didn't skip many of them, and my mother had it already at the age I am now. My father had dementia of some sort in his late fifties but I've never been clear that it was Alz.

Anyway, that's a no, not yet.
If I lived near ucla I might check this all out with them, as they're pretty expert on a lot of the research.

Dlowan, I haven't looked it up but it sounds like some sort of fluoroscein isothiocyanate conjugate (or similar) making its way back to the retinal cells via drops..
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Reply Mon 18 Jan, 2010 07:16 pm

First response: yes, of course I'd want to know!

Second response: thinking about what would happen if the answer was "yes." Dreading every senior moment (and I already have those) as an indication of the curtain finally falling. Having every argument about different recollections of past events come down to "well, I'm not the one who tested positive for Alzheimer's."

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