Eye diseases may be early signs of dementia, study shows

A new study published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology has linked eye diseases with dementia. According to the researchers, conditions such as macular degeneration, cataracts and eye disease caused by diabetes could be the first signs of neurodegenerative disease.

The study points out that the incidence of these eye diseases increases with age, as well as the incidence of systemic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, depression and stroke, risk factors for dementia.

To better understand this relationship, the authors analyzed data from 12,364 adults aged 55 to 73 years. Participants were evaluated between 2006 and 2010 at baseline and followed through early 2021. During follow-up, 2304 cases of dementia were recorded.

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Analysis of these data showed that age-related macular degeneration (which causes loss in the center of the field of vision), cataracts, and diabetes-related eye disease were associated with increased risk of dementia. Compared with people who did not have eye disease at baseline, the risk of dementia was 26% higher in those with age-related macular degeneration, 11% higher in those with cataracts, and 61% higher in those with diabetes-related eye disease. Although glaucoma has not been associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s, it has been associated with an increased risk of vascular dementia.

The researchers point out that “age-related macular degeneration, cataracts and diabetes-related eye diseases, but not glaucoma, are associated with an increased risk of dementia. Individuals with ophthalmic and systemic diseases are at higher risk of dementia compared to those with dementia ophthalmic or systemic diseases only,” and that “newly developed hypertension, diabetes, stroke, heart disease and depression mediated the association between cataract-related eye diseases, diabetes and dementia.” The full study can be accessed here.

Source: Science Blog

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