According to a recent study released in the Alzheimer’s Association’s Alzheimers & Dementia Journal, three eye diseases have been linked to an increased risk for Alzheimer’s…Glaucoma, Age-related Macular Degeneration, and diabetic retinopathy.
According to the article, glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration (AMD), and diabetic retinopathy (DR) may be associated with dementia due to shared characteristics such as progressive neurodegeneration, characteristic amyloid β deposits, and chronic microvascular insults. 3,877 participants constituted the analytic study sample of an accumulated 31,442 person-years of follow-up.
Of the 3,877 study participants, 10% had a glaucoma diagnosis at the beginning of the study and an additional 7% developed glaucoma during the study. 9% of study participants had an AMD diagnosis at the start while an additional 18% developed AMD during the period. 4% had a DR diagnosis at enrollment and 3% developed DR over the 8-year study period.
While all three of these optical diseases are associated with age, as is Alzheimer’s and Dementia. The study authors found that cataracts, which is also an age-related disease didn’t have the same correlation to Alzheimer’s as glaucoma, AMD, and DR. Participants recently diagnosed with glaucoma had a 46% increased likelihood of developing AD. Similarly, the risk among those recently diagnosed with AMD or diabetic retinopathy had a 50% increased AD risk compared with their counterparts without these conditions.
The hazard ratios for developing Alzheimer’s were 0.95 (95% confidence interval 0.80, 1.14), P = .61 for participants with glaucoma, 1.20 (1.02, 1.40), P = .03 for participants with AMD, and 1.44 (1.08, 1.94), P = .02 for participants with DR, compared with those without. Participants underwent cognitive screening with the Cognitive Abilities Screening Instrument, as well as medical history and risk factor evaluations, at recruitment and every 2 years. Those scoring 85 or higher on the cognitive screen received a standardized diagnostic evaluation, including a physical exam, neurologic exam, and neuropsychological test battery.
The study points out that most of the earlier research examining a potential association between dementia and eye disorders have lacked large, prospective cohorts with precise dementia definitions.
The study suggested that individuals who test positive for Glaucoma, Age-related Macular Degeneration, and diabetic retinopathy should be referred to a neurologist there is also any concern about cognitive dysfunction.