Older adults who are diagnosed with vision problems have a “much higher” risk of developing dementia, according to recent research out of the University of Michigan.
A study of around 3,000 adults over age 71 who took vision tests and cognitive (memory and thinking) tests found that those with one of several types of eyesight problems were more likely to develop dementia.
The findings were published in JAMA Ophthalmology, a journal of the American Medical Association.
Nearly 12% of all study subjects had a dementia diagnosis, whereas nearly 22% of those with impaired up-close vision had dementia.
Additionally, 26% of the people who had trouble seeing letters that didn’t contrast strongly against a background were diagnosed with dementia.
The incidence of dementia was even higher among those with moderate or severe distance vision impairment — 33%.
In total, those with moderate to severe distance vision issues were 72% more likely to have dementia than those with no vision issues after the researchers accounted for other differences in health status and personal characteristics.
In a summary of the findings, the study authors — part of a team of researchers at the Kellogg Eye Center at Michigan Medicine — write:
“Prioritizing vision health may be key to optimizing both sight and overall health and well-being. Randomized trials are warranted to determine whether optimizing vision is a viable strategy to slow cognitive decline and reduce dementia risk.”
Previous studies also have suggested a potential link between vision issues and increased risk of dementia. One study also found evidence that correcting cataract issues via surgery might reduce a person’s risk of developing dementia over time.
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