New test for Parkinson’s

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Posted: Thursday, November 8, 2012 4:29 pm | Updated: 4:42 pm, Wed Jul 3, 2013.

In its early stages, Parkinson’s disease is not easy to diagnose, but one test that's been in development for a decade could change how we look at the disease.

These are the tell-tale signs of Parkinson’s disease that surface years after it first takes hold.

"It starts a decade, maybe one, two, three before you start having motor symptoms." says Mark S. Baron, MD, Director of the Southeast Veterans Affairs Parkinson’s Disease Research Education.

Doctor Baron believes his eye test is the key to early diagnosis. "Everyone with Parkinson’s disease has a tremor behind the eyes."

While wearing this device patients follow a dot on the screen. Doctors then analyze the data looking for the tremors. On the top no signs of tremor and on the bottom Parkinson’s. "Can we actually predict whether they are going to get it from the eye test and the answer is, yes."

It can also help reverse a misdiagnose. Jimmy Sale was told he had Parkinson’s four years ago but in just four minutes. "We hooked him up to this system and immediately the test said a is not Parkinson’s and b most of the tremors are coming from the drugs," says George Gitchel, MS, Heath Science Research Specialist, Hunter Holmes McGuire VA Medical Center.

A promising test that could lead to better treatment options earlier in the disease.

Doctor Baron would like to see the eye test become a screening tool used during regular doctor visits. He says along with Parkinson’s the eye test could also help detect other movement disorders.

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