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Can an eye exam reveal Alzheimer’s risk?

June 7, 2019

About the Author

photo of Kelly Bilodeau

Kelly Bilodeau, Former Executive Editor, Harvard Women's Health Watch

Kelly Bilodeau is the former executive editor of Harvard Women’s Health Watch. She began her career as a newspaper reporter and later went on to become a managing editor at HCPro, a Boston-area healthcare publishing company, … See Full Bio
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Kimberly Clarkin
June 25, 2019

When referring to Glaucoma are the studies based on open angel and/or closed angel?

Richard Adrian Harvey MD
June 25, 2019

I am 75 years old and was just diagnosed with Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD). I am very fit for my age, have an excellent lipid profile, normal blood pressure, normal weight and no evidence of coronary artery disease. My diet rarely includes meat. I was started on PreserVision (Areds 2 formula) and advised to wear dark glasses which I have done for many years. In the study that links AMD to Alzheimer’s disease are there subgroups that showed less or no association ? If the 2 diseases are linked might PreserVision slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease ?

Maggie Owens Yates
June 24, 2019

Approximately 14 years ago I wondered about an Alz. and Gla. link. My Glaucoma doctor swore there was no connection. I am 68 and was diagnosed with glaucoma in my forties. Currently have severe advanced glaucoma with left eye blindness. Vision is significantly better in R eye. (20/25)
I have significant inflammation in R eye. Retina specialist does not recommend surgery due to Gla. I think I should explore what the inflammation signifies in light of this study. Thank you for providing this information.

Kathleen G.
June 24, 2019

I also meant to say there are quite a few different types of glaucoma – are they all equally strongly connected to dementia?

Kathleen G.
June 24, 2019

I don’t see any mention whatsoever regarding whether these links were found with equal frequency among people whose diabetes or glaucoma were under good medical control or not. That’s very important information and it varies widely.

Catherine Thomas
June 10, 2019

My mother now has dementia and has had glaucoma for twenty years. She has been taking a lot of drops for her eyes all this time and I have often wondered if the chemicals in the eyedrops, could lead to dementia. I believe those with macular degeneration take some of the same drops. Any word on this? Bromodidine, Dorzalimide, Latanoprost and Restasis are the names of the drops.

Robert Dors
June 24, 2019

Restasis was a medication initially developed as an anti-rejection drug but is now used to treat dry eye as it lessens the inflammatory component of dry eye and stimulates tear production. Latanoprost, dorzolamide and I believe it is brimonidine your referring to all are used to treat glaucoma by reducing pressures. None of these have been show to contribute to Alzheimer’s disease. At one time brimonidine was even thought to protect nerves from from damage and has been researched as a treatment for Alzheimer’s as well but its nerve protection properties appear to be so small that this is no determined to be effective. None of these 4 medications are used to treat macular degeneration. Currently no drops exist that are approved for macular degeneration treatment in North America. The death of brain cells in Alzheimers and the death of vision cells in glaucoma is essentially the same process and these diseases are highly linked. Retinal scans are currently able to see the Alzheimers plagues in patients long before other forms of imaging identify them in the brain.

katherine kopec
June 25, 2019

interesting..I have no high blood pressure – no diabetes – no heart disease.
my weight is good. I work out daily –
yet I was diagnosed with glaucoma 3 years ago. I am 75 years old and am now very mother passed away from alzheimer disease.
Hopefully, soon there will be a cure for has to wonder about the necessary possibly trouble for the brain or the lungs.

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