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Eye test may reveal signs of dementia

Changes in veins and arteries could be early warning of Alzheimer's disease

Mark Gould

Monday, 27 October 2014

Researchers are to investigate whether changes to veins and arteries in the eye could act as an "early warning" of Alzheimer's disease.

A team from Dundee University's school of computing is to lead a £1.1 million study into whether an eye tests can be developed to reveal the onset of the disease.

They will carry out the three-year study with colleagues in Edinburgh using specially-developed computer software to analyse high-definition images of the eye from multiple instruments to establish whether such changes in the eye could act as an early indicator of Alzheimer's disease.

The team will further develop existing software and cross-reference data with medical history information stored at Ninewells Hospital to see if a relationship can be established.

The project's leader, Professor Emanuele Trucco, said: "If you can look into someone's eyes using an inexpensive machine and discover something which may suggest a risk of developing dementia, then that's a very interesting proposition.

"There is the promise of early warning in a non-invasive way and there is also the fact that we even might be able to use the test to differentiate between different types of dementia."

The project has been funded as part of an £8 million investment at 11 universities by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.

The body's chief executive Prof Philip Nelson said: "The UK faces a huge challenge over the coming decades, we have an ageing population and a likely rise in the numbers of people suffering from dementias.

"These research projects will improve our abilities to detect and understand dementias and how the disease progresses."

The study will begin in April 2015 and run for three years.

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