Studies find cataract surgery improves Alzheimer’s patients’ quality of life, ocular imaging test may detect early Alzheimer’s

July 15, 2014

A study presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference 2014 in Copenhagen found that cataract surgery can slow the decline in cognition and improve quality of life for people suffering from Alzheimer’s and other dementias.

Copenhagen-A study presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference 2014 in Copenhagen found that cataract surgery can slow the decline in cognition and improve quality of life for people suffering from Alzheimer’s and other dementias.

Alan J. Lerner, MD, of Case Western Reserve University and University Hospitals Case Medical Center reported interim results from an ongoing clinical trial to determine the effects of cataract surgery on visual acuity, cognitive measures, and quality of life in patients with dementia. Study participants were divided into two groups-one group was had surgery immediately after being recruited for the study, while the other group had delayed surgery or refused surgery. Vision and cognitive status, mood, and capability to complete daily activities are evaluated at baseline and six months after recruitment, or six months after surgery.

Preliminary results from 20 surgical and eight non-surgical study participants found that the surgical group had significantly improved visual acuity and quality of life, reduced decline in memory and executive functioning, and improvements in behavioral measures compared to the non-surgical group. The study also found levels of perceived burden for caregivers in the surgical group showed improvement.

“These preliminary results indicate that improved vision can have a variety of benefits for people with dementia and their loved ones, both visual and non-visual,” says Lerner. “Our findings need to be verified in a larger study, but they suggest the need to aggressively address dementia co-morbidities such as vision-impairing cataracts, while balancing safety and medical risks. If the results hold up, it will significantly affect how we treat cataracts in individuals with dementia. Other interventions to offset sensory loss ­ including vision and hearing-may help improve quality of life for people with dementia and their caregivers.”

In related news, preliminary results of a clinical trial show NeuroVision Imaging’s noninvasive imaging system may detect changes in the eye associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

According research also presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference 2014, a blind clinical trial of 200 subjects aimed to correlate retinal plaque detected by the NeuroVison Imaging test with brain plaque, which is considered to be a hallmark sign of Alzheimer’s, using positron emission tomography (PET). Preliminary results for 40 patients found that beta-amyloid levels detected in the retina with the imaging test were significantly correlated with beta-amyloid levels in the brain. The retinal amyloid-imaging test differentiated between Alzheimer’s and non-Alzheimer’s patients with 100 percent sensitivity and 80.6 specificity.

The imaging test can detect plaques on the order of 20 microns, which the company says holds promise for early detection of Alzheimer’s disease.

“If longitudinal studies demonstrate that our test can detect changes in retinal plaque over a short period of time, we see great potential for using the technology not just for early detection, but also for measuring response to therapy,” says NeuroVision CEO Steven Verdooner. “Tests currently used in clinical trials such as PET scan and measurement of amyloid and tau in CSF (via lumbar puncture) are invasive, expensive, and not conducive to repeated tests. We believe the ability to measure progression is very powerful and are engaging in partnerships for therapeutic trials to prove that out.”

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