Smell and Eye Tests May Soon Detect Dementia

eyetestGrowing research evidence suggests that decreased ability to correctly identify odors is a predictor of cognitive decline and an early clinical feature of Alzheimer’s disease. The potential of using smell and eye tests to detect memory decline at an early stage was bolstered by new evidence, presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC) last month.

In particular, a recent Columbia University Medical Center study examined 397 people from a multiethnic community in North Manhattan. Researchers evaluated changes in odor identification as an early predictor of cognitive decline, and compared it to two established biological markers for cognitive decline and dementia – brain amyloid PET imaging and thickness of the brain’s cortex in areas important to memory. Those who scored lower on the odor identification testing were significantly associated with the transition to dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Another study, reported at AAIC 2016, found a strong association between thinning nerve layers in the retina of the eye and poor cognition, suggesting the potential of retinal imaging as part of early Alzheimer’s testing. Researchers used polarization imaging to look at the retina of both people with Alzheimer’s and canines, and found retinal amyloid deposits. Cognitive dysfunction syndrome is a naturally occurring condition in canines with similar changes in the brain to those in humans with Alzheimer’s.

Polarization imaging is noninvasive and can detect amyloid deposits in the retina prior to disease symptoms. That means it can be an essential tool for detecting or even preventing Alzheimer’s and other dementias.

Currently, the presence of amyloid in the brain is measured using PET brain scans that are expensive, not generally covered by insurance, and not always locally available. After death, evidence of beta amyloid in the brain in association with a history of dementia is the gold standard for diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. As an inexpensive alternative to PET scans, polarized light may detect protein deposits in the retina. This method requires no dyes or invasive testing.

While more research is needed, because these methods are much less expensive and easier to administer than PET imaging or lumbar puncture, smell and eye testing may prove to be a useful tool in helping physicians counsel patients who are concerned about their risk of memory loss.

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1 Response

  1. Bob Jensen says:

    I knew nothing about alzeimers until my dad died, and i came to look after my mom. I never knew she had the disease until i noticed moms problems. First thing i noticed, was her loss of smell, her 2 minute memory span, her inability to communicate, her inability to know that she was overheated, and especially her demeaner towards me, There are soo many symptoms i see, and it is baffling. She will eat a good breakfast, but then she will gulp fluids one after the other, and refuses to eat, saying she is full. It is so difficult that i feel like saying the hell with it, but I do love my mom, and i coerce her into eating. I find it terribly annoying to hear her gulp drinks, especially since her fluid intake is causing problems. Mom is very good at pretending she has a brain disorder, that is why many of my family, including myself, never knew she had the problem. It makes me sit down and cry at times, but at least she is unaware of it. She abuses me, has tried to stab me many times, slaps me, kicks me, tries to scald me with boiling water, throws things at me, etc. I have been doing well, taking care of her, but I have felt like commiting suicide because of the constant stess, the loneliness and the intermittant times of absolute boredom. I had to give up my life in another city, move here, take care of my dads estate etc. My sister lives 2 blocks away, in a doublewide trailer, which my dad bought her, as well as her vehicle. Now, my dad is not wealthy, just a hard worker on a retirement pension. Dad had prostate surgury, did not take care of it, and that, with moms condition, caused him to literally drink himself to death. I was going to come here to help him out, but i was a day late. I was calling him, but mom kept answering the phone, saying dad was sleeping. I knew he never slept in that long, so i called my sister to check up on him. She called 1/2 hr later, hysterical, saying that dad had died, and she begged me to come here. I packed my things, and me and my woman took the ferry to Van. island, and drove to campbell river. It took 8 hrs, from the time my sister found dad, to our arrival. My sister said very little, packed some bags and went home. I did not think, at the time, why she would have things in two bags. Mom was confused, and upset, so it took some time to settle her down. After she was in bed, my woman and i went to dads bedroom. It looked like robbers had gone through the place!All of his dresser drawers were open, things scattered all over.All of his pockets had been turned inside out in his walk-in closet, and other closet. I found about 25 bank cash envelopes on the floor, by the closets, all empty! My dad always had a lot of cash, and whenever i was in town, I would do some big jobs, like pruning trees, building sundecks, or additions, and he would always have enough cash to cover expences, sometimes a few thousand. Well, I estimate that my sister walked out of there with 5-25 thousand dollars. My sister told me where the will was in his room, as she had stumbled over it, in her thieving. My sister robbed my mothers money while her father lay dead on the floor! I read the will, and as expected, everything goes to my mother. I saw that my dad had amended his will a few months before, and he included my nephew for an equal share. What caused this, was that my sister used her trailer as collateral to obtain credit cards, which she maxed out, and was going to lose her home, that my dad paid for. Well, she cried to dad, and told him what she did, so he paid off the cars on her oath, that she would never get credit cards again. I was visiting last summer, and my sis was crying up her crocodile tears about 3 credit cards she had maxed out. Now, i did not know that she had had dad pay them off 2 months previously, and even though she asked me not to tell dad, i did! I asked dad how the hell could she get credit, when she is on welfare? Dad said she had no credit cards. I told him, that i had just seen the bills, and that she owed on 3 separate cards, about 15 thousand dollars. Well, dad turned purple, started ranting and raving about how stupid my sister is, and that she is cut off ! I left town, as dad was in too fowl a mood to visit. Dad had his will changed to include my nephew, and that was a wise move. My sister is also a hoarder besides a thief and a fraud, and her trailer is 3 feet deep in garbage, which is covered in rat shit and pee. My sister was just caught for fraud from welfare, where she was being paid for volunteering at a wildlife rescue home, where she had quit 6 years ago! Wow! I literally threw up when i found all this out, and i believe she should be locked up. Karma will get that thieving fraudster. She stole all that cash from Mom, and will never visit. She has not been here to visit mom in 6 months, and as far as i am concerned good riddance!

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