Increased risk of dementia linked to certain eye conditions

People with certain eye conditions have an increased risk of developing dementia a new study published in the journal British Journal of Ophthalmology has found.

Those with age-related macular degeneration, cataracts and diabetes-related eye disease have a heightened risk, the research found.

The new study examined data from more than 12,000 British adults aged 55 to 73 who are taking part in the UK Biobank study. They were assessed at 2006 and again at 2010 with their health information tracked until early 2021.

More than 2,300 cases of dementia were documented, according to the international team of experts led by academics from the Guangdong Eye Institute in China.

After assessing health data, the researchers found that those with age-related macular degeneration were at a 26% increased risk of going on to develop dementia. Those with cataracts had an 11% increased risk and people with diabetes-related eye disease had a 61% heightened risk. Glaucoma however was not linked to a significant increase in risk.

Researchers also found that people with previous conditions – including diabetes, heart disease, stroke and depression – were also more likely to be diagnosed with dementia.

Risk was highest among people with one of these conditions who also had some form of eye condition, they said.

Other studies have suggested that vision impairment can be one of the first signs of dementia, and reduced visual stimulation is believed to accelerate its progression.

Age-related macular degeneration, cataract and diabetes-related eye disease but not glaucoma are associated with an increased risk of dementia. Individuals with both ophthalmic and systemic conditions are at higher risk of dementia compared with those with an ophthalmic or systemic condition only. ”

The report’s authors

The study comes as Alzheimer’s Research UK said that public willingness to get involved with medical research is at an “all-time high”.

The charity said 29% of adults are more likely to consider getting involved in medical research because of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a poll of 1,000 adults across England, Scotland and Wales.

The survey, released ahead of World Alzheimer’s Day on September 21, found that 69% said they would be willing to get involved with dementia research, compared to 50% of a sample of people from a year ago.

“This is positive news for the thousands of studies waiting to get underway to help understand and tackle health conditions like dementia, cancer, and heart disease,” said Hilary Evans, chief executive of Alzheimer’s Research UK.

Article courtesy of Shropshire Star 14/09/21