RetiSpec Inc. is a medical research center focused on developing a technological tool for detecting Alzheimer’s disease biomarkers and the eye through machine learning. RetiSpec uses non-invasive tests that are simple to administer, and they are not as costly as the current predictive tests for different types of dementia. 

They have the advantage of having accessible and scalable eye screening techniques, which makes possible the broad early detection of various types of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease pathology. 

They have their headquarters in Toronto, Canada, with multiple offices worldwide, including the eye research center in Australia. RetiSpec also partners with the Ontario Brain Institute and other agencies like Biomedical Zone and Next Canada, forming a network of companies for biomedical research. 

In 2019, the company announced its receipt of an award from the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation (ADDF) for funding the accelerated development of eye imaging technology to detect early Alzheimer’s disease. 

RetiSpec uses hyperspectral imaging technology, allowing for rapid, laid-back, and cost-effective Alzheimer’s biomarker detection years before any symptoms appear. Retinal imaging technology has been proven effective in detecting minimal biomarker changes related to elevated cerebral amyloid-beta in the early disease years, even before the emergence of symptoms. 

Alzheimer’s Eye Test Diagnosis

Although dementia and Alzheimer’s disease have some similarities, they are two different conditions. For instance, dementia can stem from various diseases and some health problems like HIV and brain impairment, while Alzheimer’s has no known cause. 

The two conditions can have similar symptoms, which is why many people confuse them. Also, various treatments can be issued to cure dementia symptoms; while Alzheimer\’s has no cure, its progress can be slowed. 

Better still, research by a team of Australian scientists revealed that the quick, non-invasive eye scan test could be used to detect the presence of Alzheimer’s in its early stages. It detects retinal changes that are used to diagnose the disease.

The RetiSpec research confirmed that the retina contains elements of brain tissue. The optic nerve is what connects the retina and the brain. Since dementia disorders affect the brain, the changes they cause easily show up in the retina, aiding Alzheimer’s eye test diagnosis.

Researchers check for concentrated levels of the amyloid beta protein in the brain and retina of people living with Alzheimer’s during the test. The test can determine the presence of these biomarkers up to 20 years before the appearance of symptoms. 

Cognes mavens state that the success of these scans can introduce a whole new diagnostic test for Alzheimer’s disease, which allows detection of the disease early enough for people at risk. 

Visual Contrast Test

The majority of people living with Alzheimer’s exhibit visual problems like color vision changes. Previous research also indicates retinal changes. In their test, RetiSpec researchers sought to understand if a visual contrast sensitivity test can detect Alzheimer’s just when the biomarkers start to appear. Using frequency doubling technology, they measured the participants who had no severe eye diseases of this biomarker. 

The result was that people with a deprived visual contrast sensitivity took longer to complete exams than their counterparts with the standard contrast sensitivity. This is associated with poor visual sensitivity with amyloid and tau deposits in their brains and the temporal lobe volume. With this test, researchers suggest the use of visual acuity in the detection of early-stage Alzheimer’s.

Pupil Dilation Test

Pupil dilation has also been used in a cognitive test, another non-invasive test for Alzheimer’s disease. Prior studies reveal that mild cognitive impairment (MCI) individuals at higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease showed larger pupil dilations during the verbal short-term memory test. 

The degree of pupil dilation during the test indicates a genetic risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. In this test, participants who exerted more effort in response to the cognitive tests had wider pupil dilation, hence a higher genetic risk for Alzheimer’s than those showing lesser pupil dilation. 

The pupillary response test is a new and non-invasive technique that, when combined with other biomarkers, detects people with normal cognitive functioning who are at high risk of developing Alzheimer’s early. Future studies are projected to include a more vast population to generalize the findings further. 

Other Diagnosis Types

Doctors can’t detect Alzheimer’s until after death, when they use a microscope to examine the brain closely. However, they use different tests to separate other medical problems that might cause the symptoms. 

This is what you should expect when you or your loved one gets diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. 

Health History: Your doctor needs to know your previous and current health status by physically asking questions. He will ask about the symptoms you experience, like any difficulty with routine tasks, your mental state, family history of any other genetic disease, medications you take, and more. 

Brief Mental-State exam This test checks your problem-solving skills, attention span, memory ability, and counting skills. It helps the doctor determine if there are affected areas in the brain associated with learning, thinking, and other cognitive functions. 

Predictive AD test: Predictive AD checks the blood for beta-amyloid proteins and APOE. Having these biomarkers helps the doctor determine if imaging tests like CT and MRI scans can help diagnose Alzheimer’s using possible plaques.

CT Scan: A computer tomography machine is used to take body X-rays from several angles within a short period of time. It takes cross-sectional views of the series of images taken to show common brain changes in the advanced Alzheimer’s stages. 

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): A large magnet is used to take very clear body pictures using radio waves and computer technology. Using MRI, doctors can detect a tumor or stroke-like symptoms that resemble Alzheimer’s, as well as brain changes linked to Alzheimer’s disease.

Neurophysiological Test: It studies how the brain relates to behavior and helps with the diagnosis and treatment of conditions affecting emotion, behavior, and thoughts, all symptoms of Alzheimer’s. These tests are administered alongside thorough interviews and background tests that check your memory, language, reasoning ability, and behavioral change.

Neurophysiological tests also help the doctor and your relatives clearly understand the effect of Alzheimer’s in your daily life. 

Positron Emission Tomography (PET): Radioactive tracers are used to map some brain areas to detect Alzheimer’s-associated protein plaques. These are costly and are currently not insurable. 

For these services and more, Cognes is one of the leading institutes that offers patients convenience, cost-efficiency, and scalable diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer’s. Call us or visit our office today for more information.