New Eye Test Could Detect Early Glaucoma Before Symptom Of Blindness Begins

First Posted: Apr 28, 2017 05:00 AM EDT

A newly developed eye test could identify glaucoma at an early stage before symptom of blindness appears. This could save millions of people all around the globe who could suffer from glaucoma that leads to blindness.

The novel eye test is referred to as "Darc." It utilizes a special fluorescent marker known as ANX776 that is attached to cell proteins when inserted to patients. This fluorescent dye connects to the cells in the retina that is about to go dead. It has no adverse side effects. The technique has been tested on 16 participants who underwent safety trials, according to BBC News.

The results of the clinical trial were printed in the journal Brain. The study was led by Professor Francesca Cordeiro from the University College London's Institute of Ophthalmology and other colleagues.

Professor Cordeiro said that identifying glaucoma early is necessary as symptoms are not always obvious. "Although detection has been improving, most patients have lost a third of vision by the time they are diagnosed."

She further said that for the first time, they have been able to show individual cell death and identify the earliest signs of glaucoma. This test could also be utilized to diagnose other neurodegenerative diseases in the coming days, according to Professor Cordeiro.

In the study, the researchers tried the Darc test to eight patients with retinal neurodegeneration and other eight healthy individuals. The test allowed labeled cells to be detected up to six hours after injection. The results showed correlation with a diagnosis of glaucoma and later loss of vision, according to The Telegraph.

Philip Bloom, chief investigator professor from Western Eye Hospital, part of Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, said that the treatment could be more successful when it is begun in early stages of the disease when loss of vision is marginal. He further said that their developments mean could diagnose patients three years earlier than was previously possible.

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