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New eye test could lead to Parkinson's breakthrough

Thursday, August 25th, 2016 | News

A new method of eye testing under development at the University College of London could soon be introduced to help improve the early diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease.


Parkinson's is often hard to prematurely diagnose and many people are often too far affected by the disease to effectively manage it. The new eye test is an adaptation of tests that are normally used to check for diseases in the eye using advanced scanning equipment to study the back of a person’s eye. So far, results on rats are proving very positive. The test looks for changes in the retina; these changes can then signify if Parkinson’s is detected. The test can also be used to help measure how effective treatment has been, showing the progress patients are making.


To test how effective the equipment is at tracking the progress of Parkinson’s, the researchers used the anti-diabetic drug Rosiglitazone during the research. Though highly experimental, the drug is currently demonstrating results in laboratory tests. These tests have shown a natural protection effect on the brain, which can deter Parkinson's and it has even stopped retina cell death.This drug could potentially serve as a cure for Parkinson’s in the future, but the tests are still very early at the moment. However, with the eye test set improve the diagnosis times, the future for Parkinson’s definitely  looks to be improving.


There are over 125,000 people in the United Kingdom with Parkinson’s, that’s 1 in every 500 to be precise. The disease affects the brain's ability to produce dopamine, a chemical that serves as a neurotransmitter. Without it people experience issues moving, which in turn directly affects their ability to perform day-to-day tasks. There are several famous cases of the disease; the late Muhammad Ali lived with the disease for many years, as well as famous actor Michael J. Fox, who still actively campaigns to raise awareness of Parkinson’s.


While we may not have a definitive cure for the disease yet, this is definitely a step in the right direction. Having the ability to diagnose the neurodegenerative disease much earlier will improve the quality of life for thousands of people across the world. In the future people will be less likely to find out they have Parkinson’s when it is already too late.


If you wish to find out more, please vist the University College London website. 

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