Could a simple eye test spot the early stages of Alzheimer's
Researchers found sufferers of the disease struggled with light tracking part of eye test'Potentially exciting' results could lead to new screening process
12:21 GMT, 24 August 2012
A simple eye test could give early warning of people susceptible to Alzheimer's, it was claimed today.
Researchers at Lancaster University have found that those with the degenerative brain disease have difficulty with one particular test.
They also found that the inability to carry out the tests in those who had already been diagnosed with Alzheimer's was linked to lower memory function.
Researchers says a simple eye test could help spot the early signs of Alzheimer's
'These uncorrected errors were strongly correlated with spatial working memory,' the team, led by Dr Trevor Crawford, wrote in the journal Age.
He said the latest results were potentially exciting.
They show, for the first time, a physical connection with the memory impairment that so often is the first noticeable symptom in Alzheimer's.
Dr Crawford, of the department of Psychology and the Centre for Ageing Research, Lancaster University, said: 'The diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease is currently heavily dependent on the results of a series of lengthy neuropsychological tests.
'However, patients with a dementia often find that these tests are difficult to complete due to a lack of clear understanding and lapse in their attention or motivation.
During the study, 18 patients with Alzheimer's disease, 25 patients with Parkinson's disease, 17 healthy young people and 18 healthy older people were asked to follow the movements of light on a computer monitor.
In some instances they were asked to look away from the light, and Patients with Alzheimer's made errors on the task when they were asked to look away from the light.
These uncorrected errors were 10 times more frequent in the Alzheimers' patients than the control groups.
Researchers also measured memory function among those Alzheimer's patients who found the test difficult and were able to show a clear correlation with lower memory function.
Dr Crawford added: 'The light tracking test could play a vital role in the diagnosis of Alzheimer's.'