This latest research is the largest study to date and adds to the current literature as scientists strive to find a quick, noninvasive, and affordable way to detect Alzheimer's at the earliest stages.
By contrast the retina in the eyes of thirty nine people with a sinus disease found that the web was less dense and even sparse in places. Typically, they can see a network of tiny blood vessels but researchers identified a change that could signal early Alzheimer's. That appearance signifies a healthy brain, but in cases of Alzheimer's disease, the blood vessels appear different. It enables physicians to see the smallest blood vessels in the back of the eye that are smaller than the width of a human hair. The findings suggest that a loss of blood vessels in the retina could be an marker of the debilitating disease.
In terms of how the test works, IBM's Ben Goudey says that the team uses machine learning in order to identify a specific biological marker for Alzheimer's called amyloid-beta.
Alzheimer's is a progressive disease, with symptoms including gradual degradation of memory, confusion, and dementia, which can make many everyday tasks increasingly problematic.
This correlation could mean big things for the future of Alzheimer's diagnoses.
Citing a previous research, Goudey said: "Examining the concentration of the peptide in an individual's spinal fluid provides an indication of risk decades before any memory related issues occur".
Now 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.
This research, when it comes into fruition, can help the field of medicine take one step forward to the potential of detecting Alzheimer's disease at a budding stage through machine learning, AI and technology.
"It's not possible for current techniques like a brain scan or lumbar puncture to screen the number of patients with this disease".
"It's possible that these changes in blood vessel density in the retina could mirror what's going on in the tiny blood vessels in the brain, perhaps before we are able to detect any changes in cognition", said Fekrat.
She added: "We need to detect the disease earlier and introduce treatments earlier".
Researchers obtained data from study participants by using optical coherence tomography angiography, a non-invasive scan that can pick up on blood flow in the retina.
In the USA alone, 5.8 million people are living with Alzheimer's dementia, according to 2019 data from the Alzheimer's Association.
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