Close-up of an elderly person's eye, illustrating the connection between eye health and Alzheimer's detection

How Early Signs of Alzheimer’s Are in the Eye

Alzheimer’s affects more than 40 million people worldwide and is one of the most common causes of dementia. However, finding a solution to this disease is still something that eludes researchers today. Getting a yearly eye test can be a way to pick up early signs of Alzheimer’s and early involvement can be beneficial to family members and caregivers. Scientists continue to learn more about Alzheimer’s and eyesight, but a cure still hasn’t been found. However, it may be possible to screen patients with Alzheimer’s eyes in the future with a simple eye exam, researchers say.

What are the first signs of Alzheimer’s in the eyes?

Researchers say that your sight and smell may be the key to early detection of Alzheimer’s disease, even before symptoms surface. In the case of eyes, the retinal nerve that comes out of the brain gets narrower and that’s an indicator of the onset of Alzheimer’s. Our eyes are an extension of the brain because of their neurons. One of the first noticeable signs of Alzheimer’s is the build-up of beta-amyloid protein aggregates in the brain. They begin to develop 15 to 20 years before the onset of the disease. These aggregates can be detected through brain imaging which is an expensive procedure. Some researchers have assessed the thickness of the retina and have discovered that patients with memory loss had a thinner retina, as opposed to those without memory problems. This condition can also cause blurry vision at an initial stage that may interfere with your day-to-day activities, making what you see appear hazy or out of focus.

4 Common Visual Deficits in Alzheimer’s Disease:

An Alzheimer’s brain typically has 4 areas of visual deficit that causes a patient to make mistakes in perceptions. Let’s take a look at them and explore interesting facts about Alzheimer’s and its impact on eyesight:

  1. Reduced Ability to Detect Motion

Some Alzheimer’s patients are incompetent to detect motion. And instead of being able to see things as an ongoing video, they identify the world as a series of still photos. This makes patients feel lost even around close family members and friends. Activities involving fast motion and the ability to watch television comfortably become a challenge for patients.

  1. Loss of Depth Perception

Alzheimer’s patients can also expect a loss of depth perception where they have trouble judging how far an object is, differentiating between a three-dimensional object and a flat image and the changes in elevations becomes challenging. This comes into play when they reach out to pick up a transparent bottle filled with water on a glass table. They may miss it and it can result in a serious injury.

  1. Reduced Peripheral Vision

Patients with mid-Alzheimer’s disease have to struggle with a 12-inch field of vision where they have lost the ability to see everything at the top, on the bottom, and on the sides.

  1. Difficulty Recognizing Colors

Patients with Alzheimer’s eyes need to surround themselves with objects of high color contrast. In order for an individual to get through daily activities with ease, they need to surround themselves with objects and their surfaces of completely different colors. For instance, when at the dining table, caregivers could place a white plate on a dark blue surface or a cup with a powerful color that is different from the liquid inside it. Now that you have learnt how Alzheimer’s can affect your eyesight, regular eye exams can detect early signs of the disease and help treat the condition before it worsens.

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