Sunday 17 December 2017

Eye test may hold the key to detecting Alzheimer's

A team at the University of Dundee's school of computing have developed the software. Picture posed. Thinkstock Images
A team at the University of Dundee's school of computing have developed the software. Picture posed. Thinkstock Images

Catriona Webster

Researchers are investigating whether a simple eye test could be used to identify the early stages of Alzheimer's disease.

A three-year, £1.1m (€1.4m) project will look at whether warning signs can be detected using special computer software to analyse high-definition images of the eye.

Evidence suggests that changes in the patterns of ocular veins and arteries can be linked to other diseases such as stroke and cardiovascular disease.

A team at the University of Dundee's school of computing have developed the software - known as Vampire - with colleagues at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.

Project co-ordinator Emanuele Trucco, professor of computational vision at the University of Dundee, said: "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."

Researchers will compare measurements of thousands of images with medical histories stored at Dundee's Ninewells Hospital to see if a relationship can be established.

Mr Trucco said: "When changes occur in some parts of the body, you can see differences in the retinal vessels, eg in width, some vessels become thinner; some become larger; differences in the tortuosity, or how wriggly the vessels become; there are also differences in the angles when vessels split. These measurements can indicate a huge amount."

Irish Independent

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