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Vision Loss In Senior Citizens May Signal Risk Of Dementia

By FnF Correspondent | PUBLISHED: 17, Jul 2023, 18:35 pm IST | UPDATED: 17, Jul 2023, 18:38 pm IST

Vision Loss In Senior Citizens May Signal Risk Of Dementia New Delhi: Sight loss in people over 71 years old may be linked to dementia, suggests a new study. The researchers at the University of Michigan in the US analysed data from nearly 3,000 US citizens over 71 years old. They tested the participants' eyesight and recorded their scores for short-distance vision, long-distance vision and how well they were able to distinguish objects against different backgrounds.

The findings, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Ophthalmology, showed that participants with sight loss were more likely to have dementia compared to people with no problems with their vision.

Up to 40 per cent of dementia cases could be influenced by 12 risk factors which we may prevent or influence, such as smoking, high blood pressure and hearing loss. Sight loss is not currently one of these 12 important risk factors, but the new evidence suggests that there is a link between sight loss and dementia, the researchers said.

This is a crucial time for dementia research, as evidence builds about how factors such as sight loss are linked to dementia. Studies like this are crucial for identifying possible new dementia risk factors and ultimately working out how to potentially prevent some cases of dementia from happening in the first place," said Dr Susan Mitchell, Head of Policy at Alzheimer's Research UK.

"This new study provides important new evidence linking sight loss to dementia and ties in with previous studies. But this isn't definitive, and it will be important for future studies to find out precisely what is causing this apparent link, as this will determine what, if any, potential there is for prevention," she said.

There are several possibilities -- for example, diabetes is a key risk factor for dementia, and this condition can also cause vision problems. Or it might be that there are shared pathways in the brain that cause both vision loss and a decline in memory and thinking abilities.

Some cases of sight loss are preventable, and others can be treated successfully -- if this link is confirmed, this could mean people who take steps to minimise sight problems as they get older could also help reduce their risk of conditions like dementia, Mitchell said.

"In the meantime, we can all take action to protect our brain health, from keeping our hearts healthy to enjoying new activities and social interactions," she noted.

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