Researchers Identify Link between Vision Loss and Alzheimer’s Risk

That annual trip to the eye doctor can become even more important as we age. The American Optometric Association recently highlighted research from the International Conference on Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Diseases and Related Neurological Disorders 2017 in Vienna, Austria. According to the AOA summary, one research study that was presented tracked 7,722 participants aged 65 and older for a period of 12 years. At the beginning of the study, 8.7% had mild near-vision loss (NVL) (20/30 to 20/60), 4.2% had moderate NVL (20/60 or less), and 5.3% had distance visions loss (DVL).1 Over the 12-year span, 882 participants developed dementia, with 21.2% experiencing moderate-to-severe NVL, 17.1% mild NVL, and 18.6% DVL only.1 From the study, only 10.2% of participants with no vision loss developed dementia.1

Results from this study are indicative of the ongoing research evaluating additional indicators of dementia beyond memory loss. For other medical conditions, including heart disease and diabetes, preventive measures and early diagnosis and treatment are widely accepted and supported by the medical community.  Researchers and doctors are looking for similar preventive and diagnostic tools for Alzheimer’s disease, as the rate of the disease steadily climbs across the globe.

The results from this study indicate that your annual visit to the optometrist can reveal information about many aspects of your health, including possibly a risk for Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. The take home message from this emerging research… Don’t put off that annual vision check. Call your eye doctor today if it has been more than a year since your last eye exam.

Written by Marci L. Hardy, PhD

  1. American Optometric Association. Seniors’ near-vision loss, dementia risk linked?  Accessed on May 1, 2017.

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