This week, the Globe & Mail reported how RetiSpec's retinal scan has the potential to detect patterns specific to Alzheimer's disease even before symptoms develop using a specialized camera and software that analyzes how light reflects off the back of a person's eye.
The retinal scan, developed by RetiSpec, a medical imaging company that received funding from the Ontario Brain Institute and the Centre for Aging and Brain Health Innovation, consists of a special “hyperspectral” camera that mounts atop a standard machine used by optometrists and opthamologists for retinal examinations. Unlike a regular camera that captures the colours red, green and blue, the hyperspectral camera can capture tens or even hundreds of colours.
The company then uses artificial intelligence to analyze the image taken by the hyperspectral camera, and picks up patterns in the colours reflected at the back of the eye to determine whether the individual has signs of Alzheimer’s. It generates results within minutes.
The Toronto Memory Program plans to test the technology on at least 100 volunteers within the next few months. Volunteers will be individuals who are at risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease or have early symptoms. The results of their retinal scans will be compared with the results of their PET scans and spinal taps to test the validity of the RetiSpec tool.