The study may draw a new picture of poor vision as predictor of dementia rather than as a symptom after the diagnosis. It used Medicare data to show that those with poor vision who visited an ophthalmologist at least once for an examination were 64 percent less likely to develop dementia.
The study was based on the surveys and medical information from 625 people compiled from 1992 to 2005. Only ten percent of Medicare beneficiaries who developed dementia had excellent vision at the beginning of the study, while 30 percent of those who maintained normal cognition had excellent vision at the onset of the study.
”Our results indicate that it is important for elderly individuals with visual problems to seek medical attention so that the causes of the problems can be identified and treated,” lead author Mary A.M. Rogers says. The types of vision treatment that were helpful in lowering the risk of dementia were surgery to correct cataracts and treatments for glaucoma, retinal disorders and other eye-related problems.
Proper vision is a requirement for many of the activities that previously have been found to lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. These include reading, playing board games, other mentally stimulating activities, social networking, as well as physical activity such as walking and routine exercising. A visual disorder may interfere with normal mobility and may also hinder a person’s ability to participate in such activities.
“Many elderly Americans do not have adequate health coverage for vision,” Rogers says. “So it is not unusual that the elderly receive vision treatment only after a problem is severe enough to warrant a visit to the doctor when the problem is more advanced.”
“While heart disease and cancer death rates are continuing to decline, mortality rates for Alzheimer’s disease are on the rise,” says Rogers. “So if we can delay the onset of dementia, we can save individuals and their families from the stress, cost and burden that are associated with Alzheimer’s disease.”
MEDICA.de; Source: University of Michigan Health System