The retina seems to be one of the most promising indicators for the early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s. The changes in retina can be measured in different ways. The researchers of a recent small study proposed to measure the roughness of the retina to diagnose Alzheimer’s in its early stages of development. Why? Because in people with this disease the thinned retinal regions turn to be interspersed with thickened regions in all 10 retinal layers, causing wrinkling formation and roughness of the retina.
The researchers have devised a mathematical method to measure the degree of wrinkling through the fractal dimension to be able to distinguish between 2 dimensional flat surface of the healthy retina and its 3-dimensional variant, if it is wrinked. In this way they discovered that wrinkling in some layers of the retina begins at very early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.
The researchers proposed also a way to incorporate their proposed method within the current Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) to be able to calculate the roughness of each retinal layer and to establish the boundary between health and illness.
In practice during an ophthalmology appointment a patient sits facing the machine and spend about 4 seconds looking at a dot of light inside as that generates the OCT image. The analysis of the roughness of the image is performed by a computer program in less than 1 minute together with the other relevant standard measurements.
Based on their findings, the researchers plan to investigate how to use retinal roughness to monitor and ascertain the stage of Alzheimer’s disease, but also other neurodegenerative diseases such as ALS or Parkinson’s.
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