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Eye test can now detect early signs of dementia, says study

Mature male doctor testing an African American patient's eye in clinic

A new study suggests that a simple eye test by opticians can help gauge the risk of developing dementia. According to a report in BBC, scientists have now discovered that those with thinner retinas are more prone to be suffering from problems of reasoning and memory.
The study, published in JAMA Neurology had taken into account 32,000 people and, using optical coherence tomography (OCT), measured different parts of their retina and the retinal nerve fibre layer (RNFL). The participants, whose power of reasoning, memory and reaction time were judged, were from the age of 40 to 69. It was inferred that those with the thinnest RNFLs are the ones who were likely to fail in one of those tests.
Memory loss, and other kinds of cognitive decline are often considered as early symptoms of dementia. The OCTS tests, therefore could be a way to identify those who are at a higher risk of contracting the disease.
“It is likely that treatments will be more effective in slowing or stopping dementia at earlier stages of the disease. Also, by targeting people in the earlier stages, it should be possible to design better clinical trials for treatments that make a real difference and improve people’s lives, ” Paul Foster, Professor at the University College London Institute of Ophthalmology and co-lead author of the paper said.
Notwithstanding the advantages of the OCT tests, several scientists have also questioned the link between dementia and RNFL thickness. They are of the opinion that the findings of the test are not accurate or reliable enough to gauge cognitive ability.
The method remains popular as it demands less expenditure and is an non-invasive way to detect dementia.