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Sunrise Senior Living Blog

Sunrise Senior Living Blog

Eyesight Link to Alzheimer's

Eyes may be "warning signs" or Alzheimer's Alzheimer's disease continues to leave scientists and researchers baffled, even though progress is being made on several research fronts.

One of the most recent studies involves a three-year examination performed by researchers at both Dundee University and the University of Edinburgh. They hope the results will show that an eye test can indicate whether or not someone is susceptible to Alzheimer's. The group was awarded £1.1 million to conduct the study, which is set to begin in April 2015.

Eyes may be 'warning signs' 

A team from the Dundee University's school of computing will spend the next three years finding whether alterations to the veins and arteries found in the eye could be directly linked to memory loss, stroke and cardiovascular disease. If changes to these components of the eye do impact the brain's ability to remember, the eye could be used as a "warning sign" of Alzheimer's, assisting in the ongoing effort to identify the disease in people early before it worsens. 

When the study begins, it'll rely on specially developed software that analyses high-definition images of an eye ball from various instruments. The researchers will also further develop older software and use it to cross-reference data with medical history information stored in Ninewells Hospital to see if a link can be discovered.  

A greater cause

Emanuele Trucco, the leader of the study, is a professor of computational vision at the school of computing.

"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," said Trucco.

The project's £1.1 million funding was a part of an £8 million investment provided by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council to a total of 11 universities.

The motivation behind the project stems from the fact that the UK is currently facing a huge dementia challenge. With the ageing population increasing, 800,000 already live with the disease and more than a million will be affected within a few years.

A spokesperson for Sunrise Senior Living, which operates 27 care homes in the UK, each with a dedicated dementia care neighbourhood called "Reminiscence," said, "There is a huge amount of research taking place into Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia. Anything that helps to deepen understanding is to be welcomed."

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