Older adults with vision problems face significantly higher risks of dementia, a new analysis suggests.
The study, published online July 13, 2023, by JAMA Ophthalmology, built on earlier data from a nationally representative survey of older adults conducted in 2021. Researchers performed vision and cognitive tests on nearly 3,000 adults 71 and older (average age 77, 55% women). They assessed participants' up-close and distance vision on a digital tablet and administered tests of memory and thinking ability. Participants also provided medical records that included any existing diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia.
About 12% of all participants had been diagnosed with dementia. But that proportion was higher — nearly 22% — among those whose up-close vision was impaired. Additionally, 33% of participants with moderately or severely impaired distance vision had dementia. Over all, participants with moderate or severe distance vision problems were far more likely than those with no vision problems to have dementia.
Since most vision impairments can be corrected, study authors said, it's important to prioritize vision health to optimize brain function.
Image: © Maskot/Getty Images
As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles.
No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.