Study: Sight Conditions in Older Adults Associated with Increased Risk of Dementia

The study highlights the need for further research to investigate the impact of correcting sight problems in older adults to prevent cognitive problems and dementia.

Older individuals with untreated sight conditions could be at an increased risk of dementia, according to a new systematic review and meta-analysis of 16 studies involving a total of 76,373 individuals.

The results of the study, published in Aging and Mental Health, highlights the need for further research to investigate the impact of correcting sight problems in older adults to prevent cognitive problems and dementia, according to the authors.

"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," Beibei Xu, associate professor from the Medical Informatics Center at Peking University, said in a statement. "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.”

The analysis was made up of 5 cross-sectional studies and 11 longitudinal studies published before April 2020. From the studies, investigators examined the relationship between visual impairment and cognitive outcomes.

They found that individuals with a sight problem had an increased risk of cognitive impairment and dementia, regardless of whether their visual impairment was self-reported or diagnosed using objective measures.

Additionally, they found the likelihood of having cognitive impairment was 137% higher among individuals who had a sight problem compared to those who did not. The investigators also found that those who had a sight problem at baseline had a 41% increased risk of developing impairment and a 44% risk of dementia compared to those who did not.

"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 in the statement. "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 investigators recommend future research to examine the effectiveness of treating sight problems in older adults to prevent cognitive impairment and dementia.

Nearly 1 million individuals are estimated to have dementia in the United Kingdom and is set to increase over the next few decades as the population ages.

According to the statement, it is predicted that individuals living with dementia in the United Kingdom will jump to 1.6 million by the year 2050. Additionally, the cost of dementia is expected to almost double over the same time from £25 billion today to £47 billion in 2050.

Reference

Sight problems may increase dementia risk in older adults. Science Daily. June 24, 2022. Accessed June 29, 2022. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2022/06/220624104935.htm

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