A new study found that a novel eye test can detect the early signs of an uncommon type of dementia, frontotemporal dementia (FTD), which is indicated by thinning of the outer retina. FTD is very difficult to diagnose as it does not show any early symptoms, develops slowly and gets worse gradually over years. Scientists at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine found changes in the eye know as frontotemporal lobe degeneration causing frontotemporal dementia. The study was published in the journal Neurology.
The diagnostic study was done on 38 FTD patients and 44 with no neurodegenerative diseases. FTD patients were carefully examined with fluid biomarkers mainly to rule out Alzheimer’s as FTD is often misdiagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Researchers used an eye-imaging technique – spectral domain optical coherence tomography (SD-OCT) to diagnose FTD, where they detected thinning of outer retinal layer specifically in two portions, outer nuclear layer (ONL) and ellipsoid zone (EZ) in the FTD patients. SD-OCT technology uses a safe light beam to image tissues at a micro-level resolution and is quick, non-invasive and inexpensive.