25. July 2011 10:44
Alzheimer's and eyes have been in the news lately. Recent early research suggests there may be a way to look at the retina and possibly predict who may get Alzheimer's in the future. It is always exciting when new discoveries can impact our way of life. However, there also can be some downsides to this knowledge. First of all, many tests have false positives and negatives. Therefore, some patients who may never develop a disease could be told that they are going to develop the problem. This could be devastating to their life. I believe the key to this type of information is important if we have a treatment for a condition. It would be great to know who will develop Alzheimer's if we have a treatment which can stop the condition when detected early. Until that happens, the risk of false positive tests and the significant cost of a retinal images on our population might outweigh the information at this point.
The importance of this recent information is that we are starting to look at different organ systems which may give us clues on the diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer's. This will stimulate further thought, research and different technologies which hopefully will help us diagnose and treat this dreadful disease earlier. As an ophthalmologist, I am excited that the eyes may give us more information about a significant systemic condition, but also realize that this is very early information.
Remember, protect those eyes!!
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