Simple eye tests could be used to spot Alzheimer’s disease years before patients begin to lose their memory, a study suggests.
Eye specialists have shown elderly people with Alzheimer’s have fewer of the microscopic blood vessels that usually form a web at the back of the eye.
The breakthrough raises the prospect that opticians could look for signs of dementia during annual eye checks.
Currently the only ways to definitively diagnose Alzheimer’s are through expensive brain scans or by taking a fluid sample from the patient’s spinal cord.
Doctors are desperate to come up with a way to spot the disease much earlier when lifestyle changes could minimise the extent of the damage. More than 500,000 people in Britain suffer from Alzheimer’s and the total is rising, but most are diagnosed too late to do anything about it.