Study finds link between eye conditions and increased risk of dementia
Age-related macular degeneration, cataracts and diabetes-related eye disease are linked to an increased risk of dementia, new research suggests. The research results have been published online in the “British Journal of Ophthalmology”.
Visual impairment can be one of the first signs of dementia, and reduced stimulation of the visual sensory pathways is thought to accelerate its progression. Some small studies have suggested that there may be a link between ophthalmic conditions that cause impaired vision – age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, diabetes-related eye disease, and glaucoma – and cognitive impairment.
The incidence of these ophthalmic conditions increases with age, as does the incidence of systematic conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, depression and stroke, which are risk factors. recognized for dementia. It is therefore not clear whether these ophthalmic conditions are associated with a higher incidence of dementia independently of these systematic conditions. To investigate, the authors therefore analyzed data from 12,364 adults aged 55 to 73 included in the UK Biobank study.
Participants were assessed between 2006 and 2010 at baseline and followed through early 2021. During the 1,263,513 person-years of follow-up, 2,304 cases of dementia were recorded. Analysis of these data showed that age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, and diabetes-related eye disease, but not glaucoma, were independently associated with an increased risk of dementia from any cause.
Compared with people who had no eye problems at the start of the study, the risk of dementia was 26% higher in people with age-related macular degeneration, 11% higher in those with cataracts and 61% higher in those with diabetes-related eye disease. While glaucoma was not associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease, it was associated with a higher risk of vascular dementia.
At the start of the study, participants were asked if they had ever had a heart attack, angina, stroke, high blood pressure, or diabetes, and were assessed for depression. Diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and depression were all associated with an increased risk of dementia. Having one of these conditions (a systemic condition) along with an eye condition further increased the risk of dementia, and the risk was higher when diabetes-related eye disease occurred at the same time as a condition. systemic.
A higher relative risk of dementia has been observed in people with more eye problems. This is an observational study, and as such, cannot establish the cause, and the authors also point out several potential limitations, primarily related to data entry.
They point out that ophthalmic conditions were defined based on self-reported data and inpatient records, which was likely to underestimate their prevalence, that medical records and death registers may not have captured all cases. of dementia, and that some dementias documented during follow-up may have occurred prior to the eye disease. Nonetheless, they concluded that “age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, and diabetes-related eye disease, but not glaucoma, are associated with an increased risk of dementia. or a systemic condition only. “
They added: “Newly developed hypertension, diabetes, stroke, heart disease and depression mediate the association between cataract / diabetes-related eye disease and dementia.” (ANI)
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