Australian researchers based at the Macquarie University in NSW and Edith Cowan University in WA are among the first in the world to receive a specialised eye camera, worth $250,000, which has the potential to detect a hallmark sign of Alzheimer’s disease.
The Optina Hyperspectral Camera is able to take non-invasive retinal imaging scans which can identify the amyloid-beta protein, which in excess, forms into plaques and damages and kills the brains’ cells.
According to the Optina Diagnostics website, the eye is attached directly to the brain so “it’s not surprising that the eye provides accurate insights into neurological pathologies”.
The camera has an ability to collect and process light intensity for up to 200 continuous spectral bands at very high speeds. To put this into perspective, the human eye can only see three colour wavelengths in the colour spectrum (i.e. red, green and blue), so these cameras are very powerful. Every image the camera takes of the eye contains a specific reflectance which is then used to characterise biomarkers associated with the disease in question, such as amyloid beta for Alzheimer’s disease.
Professor of Neurobiology at Macquarie University in Sydney, and Foundation Professor of Ageing and Alzheimer’s disease at Edith Cowan University in Perth, Ralph Martins, and his retinal imaging team, are using the camera to further develop an eye test for the screening of Alzheimer’s disease within the Australian population.
“We need a reliable, and more readily accessible, sensitive biological marker to make early diagnosis possible in order for therapeutic interventions to be effective.
“Having access to these cameras gives us the real potential to explore the identification of a protein in the brain called beta-amyloid [or amyloid-beta], known to be linked to Alzheimer’s, that can be viewed in the eye well before the onset of memory impairment,” explains Professor Martins.
The major reason for developing new technologies for Alzheimer’s disease detection is that the current technologies can be expensive, invasive and not widely available – so the development of a simple eye scan, could certainly be game-changing.
However, the ability for the cameras to detect and diagnose Alzheimer’s disease are still in the research phases and has not progressed into a clinical setting.
The research team is currently running trials in both Sydney and Perth and is in the process of testing the eyes of about 200 men to further investigate the use of this technology. Dementia Daily will keep you posted on the outcomes of this research.
So sorry to hear that, Robert. Please know you an call us on the National Dementia Helpline on 1800 100 500 for support and advice. All the best, The Dementia Daily Team
Hi Robin. We here at Alzheimer's Australia don't operate this camera or do the testing. You'll need to go direct to Macquaire University for this. If you do have concerns about your memory, you can call us on the National Dementia Helpline on 1800 100 500 and our advisors can give you assistance and advice. Good luck, The Dementia Daily Team
My wife of nearly 58 years, now 83 years old had to move into high care a few weeks ago. She is in denial and thinks that she is at home and wants to come home when I tell here. It is devstating!
Put me down for a test. I'm 62 years old and feel like my memory doesn't work as well as it once did.
This woud be so fantastic. Hope it is successful and soon,