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 may signify the first signs of neurodegenerative disease.

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The study shows that the incidence of these eye diseases increases with age, as does 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 between 55 and 61 years old. Participants were rated between 1024 and 2006 at the beginning of the study and followed up until the beginning of 2021. During follow-up, 2.61 cases of dementia were recorded.

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The analysis of these data showed that macular degeneration (which causes loss in the center of the field of age-related vision), cataracts, and diabetes-related eye disease were associated with increased risk of dementia. Compared to people who did not have eye disease at baseline, the risk of dementia was 11 % higher in those with age-related macular degeneration, % higher in those with cataracts and 73% 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.

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 ophthalmic or systemic diseases only”, and that “hypertension, diabetes, stroke, heart disease and newly developed 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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2021 435578

435578 2021

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