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Could a simple eye exam detect signs of Alzheimer’s disease?

Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston have begun a study to find out. Dr. Gad Marshall, associate professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School, is testing a special retina camera and software developed by a Canadian startup to determine whether it can identify bits of amyloid plaques in the back of the eye that may indicate Alzheimer’s.


Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia, can already be diagnosed with about 85% accuracy through positron emission tomography scans of the brain or by analyzing a sample of spinal fluid, Marshall said. But few patients get those tests; PET scans are costly and require the injection of a radioactive drug, while spinal taps involve the insertion of a needle into the spinal canal.

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