New study finds problem with the eyes could increase dementia risk by 33 percent

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Dr Olivia Killeen, who led the study, explained vision problems can not only impact a person’s social life, but can also result in a number of negative health outcomes.

“Vision problems really matter because they impact every aspect of a person’s life,” said Dr Killeen.

“They impact their ability to work and how they can enjoy leisure time with their friends and family.

“And even more profoundly, vision problems are linked to a number of other negative health outcomes.”

Dr Killeen stated people with vision problems are more likely to have dementia.

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Such a conclusion was drawn by looking at the data among nearly 3,000 participants, who had an average age of 77.

In that age cohort, over 12 percent had dementia, but in those who had trouble seeing up close, 22 percent had dementia.

Moreover, for people with moderate to severe distance vision impairment or blindness, the rate of dementia increased to 33 percent.

Dr Killeen said: “In our culture, sometimes there’s a perception that losing your vision is a normal part of ageing.

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“But it’s actually not. We lose vision as we get older because of eye problems, most of which can be treated.”

Dr Killeen added: “Simply needing glasses or cataract surgery are two of the biggest reasons we may lose vision as we get older, and those are completely treatable.”

While the research can not claim that vision impairment causes dementia, a link has been highlighted nevertheless.

Dementia risk factors

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) pointed out modifiable risk factors for dementia.

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For instance, obesity is associated with late-life dementia, which can be remedied by losing weight.

Another risk factor for dementia is smoking, which is associated with up to an 80 percent increased risk of dementia.

By keeping to a healthy weight and being a non-smoker you are able to minimise your risk of dementia.

Additional risk factors include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Lower educational attainment
  • Low social engagement and support
  • Alcohol consumption
  • A sedentary lifestyle.

The study by Dr Killeen, based at the University of Michigan, was published in the journal JAMA Ophthalmology.

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