The Alzheimer's Association puts a fine point on the truism that the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease or some other form of cognitive impairment increases with age: (They expect that) 7 million of those who reach 85 by 2050 will have Alzheimer's disease (AD). In fact, 16 million Americans already suffer from cognitive impairment that affects their ability to remember, learn, concentrate, or make decisions. Yet no accurate risk assessment to predict Alzheimer's disease is available – nor is a prevention method. A simple, inexpensive way to evaluate brain health is a breakthrough – that's badly needed.
"A thorough eye exam may be the answer," says Paul McGlothin, president of LivingTheCRWay, which has developed BELLA, Better Eyes for Longer Life without Alzheimer's, a citizen science project – open to everyone. As McGlothin explains,
"Participants are given a list of tests to request at their annual eye exam. Preliminary studies indicate retinal assessments like optical coherence tomography and retinal mapping may be able to predict risk of Alzheimer's disease and other dementias, years before symptoms develop. This means that people would have time to do something about it: BELLA participants can elect to receive diet and lifestyle guidance that may improve their cognitive performance and reduce risk of Alzheimer's disease and other dementias. The testing may also indicate how well their own natural interventions to prevent cognitive decline and disease are working."
LivingTheCRWay has partnered with New York's Somers Eye Center, led by its founder, Dr. Ami Ranani to launch the BELLA project. Dr. Ranani says,
"To make it easy for patients to participate, we offer the tests at minimal cost. While using eye evaluations to assess brain health is still experimental, many diseases that cause cognitive impairment have symptoms that can be detected with optical coherence technology and retinal imaging, which we offer at the (Somers) Eye Center. Patients who have the tests in other locations can also participate in the study and arrange for phone consultations to discuss the results."