Two studies presented Tuesday at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference 2016 suggested older adults with worsening ability to identify odors might be on the road to cognitive decline.
Two other presentations explored different types of eye tests as possible predictors of the disease. Alzheimer's is the most common type of dementia, causing problems with memory, thinking and behavior.
"Maybe these are the breakthroughs but the smart money would bet on caveat emptor," said Gandy, who said he "would not make much" of eye tests until large numbers of people with appropriate age-matched controls had been studied by several independent groups.
However, Knopman said he believes this second retinal study is interesting "because if amyloid can be imaged in the eye, it might be far simpler than doing a PET scan." Plaque is a "more direct" connection to Alzheimer's disease than a smell test, he said. If the results hold up after more extensive experiments, this simple eye test may become the go-to test for accurately diagnosing Alzheimer's in patients long before symptoms appear.
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