Has a new Alzheimer's test been found?
According to doctors at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, this may be true. The researchers say results of a study in the U.S. and Australia show technology that uses light to peer into the eye may be the key to detecting the debilitating disease 15 to 20 years before doctors now can diagnose it.
The new test takes about 20 minutes. It is noninvasive, affordable, and has been highly accurate in determining if someone does not have the disease and also has a good track record for being able to tell patients when they do have it.
Investigators are now following the progress of plaques in some patients as part of the study. The test is being used in clinical trials at hospitals in the U.S. and Australia but is not yet available to the general public.
Watch out for the warning signs
The Alzheimer’s Association cites promise in other studies identifying possible precursors to Alzheimer’s disease, including:
- Hearing loss could show that thinking abilities are worsening in older adults, including processing new information, thinking flexibly, and brain, eye, and hand coordination while processing information.
- Another study showed that changes in everyday speech -- including the use of short sentences, more pronouns, and pauses like "um" and "ah” --were connected to early mild impairment in thinking skills, which can be a precursor to Alzheimer's disease.
- And another study found that older adults have a high risk for memory and thinking problems after being hospitalized in emergency or urgent admissions, but not for elective or scheduled surgeries.
The Alzheimer's Association says early detection allows people a better chance of benefiting from treatment, more time to plan for the future, more chances to take part in clinical drug trials, and a chance to decide about care, living options, and financial and legal matters.