According to a neurologist, an early warning sign of Alzheimer’s could actually be found in people’s vision before memory loss starts.
Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, believe that eye doctors may be able to detect the very first signs of dementia if they knew how to spot something called posterior cortical atrophy (PCA), also known as Benson’s syndrome.
PCA is sometimes described as a visual variant of Alzheimer’s disease and affects areas in the brain that deal with spelling, calculation and complex visual processing. Dr Marianne Chapleau, a neurologist at the same university, thinks quicker and more frequent diagnosis of PCA could help a lot of patients who are starting to develop Alzheimer’s disease – reports The Express
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She said: “Most patients see their optometrist when they start experiencing visual symptoms and may be referred to an ophthalmologist who may also fail to recognize PCA. We need better tools in clinical settings to identify these patients early on and get them treatment.”
The signs of Posterior Cortical Atrophy (PCA), a type of dementia, usually show up before the age of 60, according to research published in The Lancet. This is often before the first signs of memory loss and confusion that are common in Alzheimer’s disease.
People with PCA typically see a doctor about 3.8 years after symptoms start. By this time, mild or moderate dementia symptoms are usually present.
Many people diagnosed with PCA show signs of “constructional dyspraxia, space perception deficit, and simultanagnosia.” These conditions can affect a person’s ability to copy drawings, identify the location of objects, and pay attention to more than one object at a time. Nearly half also had trouble doing simple maths and reading text.
Researchers believe that PCA is often missed in diagnoses and want to raise awareness about the disorder. More information about lesser-known causes of dementia can be found on the NHS website and the Alzheimer’s Society has a section on posterior cortical atrophy.
Sarah Carter is a health and wellness expert residing in the UK. With a background in healthcare, she offers evidence-based advice on fitness, nutrition, and mental well-being, promoting healthier living for readers.