Early Detection

Angie SzumlinskiNews

We know the drill; Alzheimer’s disease affects the brain, approximately 32 million people have this form of dementia and about 69 million are in the early stages (prodromal) experiencing mild cognitive impairment. Alzheimer’s disease impacts brain functions such as memory, spatial awareness, speaking, and writing, but less is known about the changes that may impact the eyes.  

In a new study, researchers examined how Alzheimer’s affects the eye by identifying the effects of a rare eye condition known as posterior cortical atrophy (Benson’s syndrome). What they found was that about 94% of people with posterior cortical atrophy also had Alzheimer’s disease. The scientists urged the need for more clinical awareness of the condition, known as Benson’s syndrome, to help detect Alzheimer’s earlier in the disease process. 

Posterior cortical atrophy is caused by neurodegeneration and is difficult to diagnose as the symptoms are not easily recognized. Vision can be perfectly normal but the ability to know what is seen is impaired. The patient may have difficulty reading or writing, difficulty recognizing objects, poor depth perception, etc. There is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease; however, there are medications to slow progression. Think about the day we can identify it earlier so medications can be initiated sooner; would we get better results? Would decline be slowed enough to allow people with the disease to enjoy quality of life for a longer period? Maybe! Keep an “eye” on your active residents, are they not doing their usual crossword puzzle? Are they having difficulty ambulating or appear to be uncomfortable walking alone? These could be early signs that we often overlook. If you notice any of the symptoms of Benson’s disease, please have an ophthalmologist examine the resident to rule out this precursor to Alzheimer’s! Stay well and stay informed!