Currently Alzheimer's disease, which affects more than 20 million people worldwide, can only be definitively diagnosed by histological examination of brain tissue obtained at autopsy or biopsy. There is a great need for an early, noninvasive, sensitive, and easily administered diagnostic test of Alzheimer's disease. Here it is reported that patients diagnosed with probable Alzheimer's disease by standard clinical criteria exhibited a marked hypersensitivity in their pupil dilation response to a cholinergic antagonist, tropicamide, placed in their eyes. It was possible to distinguish 18 of 19 individuals (95%) either clinically diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease or classified as suspect Alzheimer's individuals by neuropsychological screening from 30 of 32 normal elderly controls (94%).
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