Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences

Eye test could detect early stages of dementia

CCBS researchers, with colleagues in Dundee, have secured funding to assess whether an eye test could help diagnose dementia.

Researchers from Neuroimaging Sciences (Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences) and colleagues at the University of Dundee have already developed a software package - known as VAMPIRE (Vascular Assessment Measurement Platform for Images of the REtina) - to help analyse retinal images.

They have now secured further funding from The Engineering and Physical Science Research Council (EPSRC), to carry out a three-year £1.1 million project that will assess whether a simple eye test identifying changes in the patterns of ocular veins and arteries, could help diagnose dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. The VAMPIRE software is designed take measurements from thousands of images efficiently. The researchers will use VAMPIRE to cross reference the collected data with medical history information currently stored at Ninewells Hospital, Dundee, to see if a relationship can be established.

wide-field image of the retina

The team at the University of Edinburgh is formed by CCBS researchers Dr Tom MacGillivray, Professor Joanna Wardlaw, Dr Fergus Doubal and Professor Bal Dhillon, with Professor Ian Deary (Centre for Cognitive Epidemiology and Cognitive Ageing). The University of Genova, Italy, is an external collaborator.

The Engineering and Physical Science Research Council (EPSRC) has funded the project as part an £8 million investment in research at 11 UK universities. The grant will fully fund the research, including three postdoctoral research positions and a part-time nurse based at Ninewells Hospital. The study will begin in April 2015 and run for three years.

If you can look into someone’s eyes using an inexpensive machine and discover something which may suggest a risk of developing dementia, then that’s a very interesting proposition. There is the promise of early warning in a non-invasive way and there is also the fact that we even might be able to use the test to differentiate between different types of dementia.

Emanuele TruccoProfessor of Computational Vision at the School of Computing, University of Dundee

Read some of the media coverage of this announcement:

Related Links

The VAMPIRE project

Edinburgh Imaging

Dr Tom MacGillivray Principal Investigator profile

Professor Joanna Wardlaw Principal Investigator profile

Dr Fergus Doubal Principal Investigator profile

Professor Bal Dhillon Principal Investigator profile

Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology