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[IN FOCUS] Untreated sight problems may increase dementia risk

Older adults with untreated sight conditions may be at increased risk of cognitive problems and dementia, according to a new systematic review and meta-analysis of 16 studies involving 76,373 participants. The authors call for further research to examine the impact of correcting sight problems in older adults -- for example, with glasses or cataract surgery – as preventive measures.

“Our findings add to the growing evidence that fading eyesight is a risk factor for developing dementia," said lead author, Associate Professor Beibei Xu, from the Medical Informatics Center, at Peking University. "Although the reasons behind this remain unclear, it suggests that diagnosing and treating eye conditions may be beneficial -- both to improve a person's quality of life and also to potentially slow down or stop memory loss."

The authors also found that the likelihood of having a cognitive impairment was 137% higher among people who had a sight problem compared to those who did not, and that people who had a sight problem at baseline (the start of the study) had a 41% increased risk of developing cognitive impairment and a 44% increased risk of dementia, compared with those who did not.

The authors say the results highlight the importance of regular eye examinations for older adults, enabling early detection. They also suggest that any self-reported changes to a person's eyesight should not be ignored.

To read the full article, “The association between vision impairment and cognitive outcomes in older adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis,” click here

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