Apr 1 2021

How the brain-eye connection aims to make memory loss a souvenir

Do you have senior moments? Are you concerned your memory loss may be a sign of something beyond normal aging? An innovative eye exam is helping physicians answer these questions with confidence.

In fact, nearly 40% of people over the age of 65 suffer from some form of memory loss.


Understanding the causes of memory loss

There’s currently no cure for Alzheimer’s or Alzheimer’s related dementia, early detection can give patients more control over how they manage their overall well-being. That includes managing their brain health to reduce certain risk factors, potentially delaying or even reversing memory loss.

“Brain health is directly linked to our overall health,” says Dr. Sandra Black, Neurologist at the Sunnybrook Health Science Center. “Things like physical activity, sleep, diet, and social engagement are all extremely important in building reserve and resilience for brain aging.”

What does this mean? The health of your brain and your heart are also connected, which means managing cardiovascular risk factors like diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure can also reduce the risk of cognitive decline.


The barriers of Alzheimer’s diagnosis

One of the biggest obstacles to addressing cognitive decline (including memory loss) is delayed diagnosis. The pathology underlying memory loss can begin years before the first symptoms appear.

Currently, no single diagnostic test exists for patients who are experiencing symptoms of cognitive decline. Instead, physicians use a process of elimination, ruling out other health concerns via cognitive assessments, medical and family history and speaking to family members, friends and caregivers. This process may take years, and eventually requires invasive and costly tests like nuclear brain imaging such as a PET (positron-emission tomography) scan.

But isn’t there a better way?

That’s why the experts in imaging, engineering and artificial intelligence at Optina Diagnostics have been working for 6 years to find new screening approaches to aid in early detection of memory loss. Early detection can help empower patients with the necessary information to make changes to their lifestyle, and ensure plans are in place for their long-term care.


Using the eye’s retina as a window to brain health

“The eye is a natural window to the brain through the retina, as it’s an anatomical extension of the brain,” explains Dr. Black.

Researchers recently discovered that changes in the retina are associated with the hallmark cause of memory loss. These discoveries could dramatically transform the design of clinical trials to discover new treatments for Alzheimer’s dementia.

Optina Diagnostics developed a way to detect these changes with a quick, safe, and non-invasive eye test.

“It’s exceedingly more accessible than the PET scan technology currently in use in clinical trials” says Dr. Bergeron, Psychiatrist and Neuroscientist at the Ottawa Memory Clinic.

“With funds from prominent venture capital firms as well as government bodies, we have made significant progress over the last years and we are now getting close to our final commercial approval in Canada and USA,” says David Lapointe, CEO, Optina Diagnostics.

While the immediate goal is to test at-risk individuals, Dr. Bergeron hopes Optina technology will eventually be accessible for anyone over a certain age. “It’s never too early to start thinking about your brain health,” he adds.


Optina is transforming detection and understanding of memory loss by bringing cutting-edge eye imagery and artificial intelligence to your local eye clinic.

Learn more about your health and help us advance the science of diagnosing Alzheimer’s and other diseases by participating in one of our studies.


“Together we can make memory loss a souvenir”