The link between vision problems and an increased risk of dementia among seniors

Aug 10, 2022
According to Dementia Australia, in 2022, there are an estimated 487,500 Australians living with dementia. Source: Getty Images.

A new study has revealed a link between vision problems and an increased risk of cognitive impairment and dementia in the elderly.

The study titled, The association between vision impairment and cognitive outcomes in older adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis, found an association between problems with poor eyesight and the onset of cognitive impairment while highlighting the need for further research to determine how addressing vision issues among seniors could prevent cognitive issues and dementia down the road.

Researchers analysed data collected from 76,373 participants across 16 studies and found that those with a sight problem had an increased risk of dementia with the chance of developing a cognitive impairment 137 per cent higher for those who had sight problems compared to those who didn’t.

The study also determined that participants who suffered from a sight problem at baseline had a 41 per cent increased risk of developing cognitive impairment and a 44 per cent increased risk of dementia, compared with those who didn’t have problems with their vision.

The lead author of the study, Associate Professor Beibei Xu, from the Medical Informatics Center at Peking University, said  “this study is among the first to evaluate the association between sight problems and cognitive outcomes in older adults through a comprehensive examination of all available population-based studies in English.”

“Our findings add to the growing evidence that fading eyesight is a risk factor for developing dementia,” Xu said.

“Although the reasons behind this remain unclear, it suggests that diagnosing and treating eye conditions may be beneficial – both to improve a person’s quality of life and also to potentially slow down or stop memory loss.”

According to Dementia Australia, in 2022, there are an estimated 487,500 Australians living with dementia.

Dementia encompasses a collection of symptoms that are caused by disorders that impact the brain. Dementia affects thinking, behaviour and the ability to perform everyday tasks.

Across the globe, more than 55 million people have dementia with this number expected to double every 20 years, reaching 78 million in 2030 and 139 million in 2050.

Xu claims “finding ways to prevent or delay the onset of dementia could help reduce its devastating impact on the lives of affected individuals and their families, especially in light of the growing burden of the disease.”

“Identifying modifiable risk factors is the first critical step for developing effective interventions to achieve this goal,” Xu said.

“Our new results highlight the importance of regular eye examinations for older adults , enabling any potential problems with their vision to be spotted and treated early. They also suggest that any self-reported changes to a person’s eyesight should not be ignored.”

The study’s authors hope to conduct further research to determine the effectiveness of treating vision problems and its impact on preventing dementia in seniors.

IMPORTANT LEGAL INFO This article is of a general nature and FYI only, because it doesn’t take into account your personal health requirements or existing medical conditions. That means it’s not personalised health advice and shouldn’t be relied upon as if it is. Before making a health-related decision, you should work out if the info is appropriate for your situation and get professional medical advice.

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