Age-related macular degeneration, cataract and diabetes-related eye disease are linked to an increased risk of dementia, suggests research published online in the British Journal of Ophthalmology.1
Vision impairment can be one of the first signs of dementia, and reduced stimulation of visual sensory pathways is believed to accelerate its progression. Some small studies have suggested there may be a link between ophthalmic conditions that cause vision impairment – age-related macular degeneration, cataract, diabetes-related eye disease and glaucoma – and cognitive impairment.
The authors analysed data on 12,364 adults aged 55-73 years enrolled in the UK Biobank study. Participants were assessed between 2006 and 2010 at baseline and followed up until early 2021. During the 1,263,513 personyears of follow-up, 2,304 cases of dementia were recorded.
Analysis of these data showed that age-related macular degeneration, cataract and diabetes-related eye disease, but not glaucoma, were independently associated with increased risk of dementia from any cause.
Compared with people who did not have ophthalmic conditions at the start of the study, the risk of dementia was 26% higher in those with age-related macular degeneration, 11% higher in those with cataract, and 61% higher in those with diabetesrelated eye disease.
While glaucoma was not associated with increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease, it was associated with a higher risk of vascular dementia.
- Shang, X., et al. (2021) Associations of ophthalmic and systemic conditions with incident dementia in the UK Biobank. British Journal of Ophthalmology. doi.org/10.1136/ bjophthalmol-2021-319508.