A new research study published British Journal of Ophthalmology has reportedly found that millions of people suffering from eye conditions such as cataracts, diabetes-related eye disorders, and age-related macular degeneration are at a high risk of developing dementia.
Loss of vision is one of the earliest symptoms of the illness, which is expected to impact more than 130 million people globally by 2050. Previous studies have shown that there may be a connection between visual impairment caused by eye conditions, and cognitive impairment.
The prevalence of these disorders, however, rises with age, as do systemic ailments such as diabetes, hypertension, depression, heart disease, and stroke, all of which are recognized risk factors for dementia. As a result, it remained unclear if ocular problems were associated with an increased risk of dementia irrespective of systemic diseases.
Now, the new study has found that diabetes-related eye disorders, age-related macular degeneration, and cataracts are all independently linked with an increased risk of dementia. The study looked at data from 12,364 British individuals aged between 55 and 73, who took part in the UK Biobank project. They were evaluated in 2006 and again in 2010, and their health data was monitored until early 2021.
According to an international team of specialists lead by academics from China's Guangdong Eye Institute, more than 2,300 dementia cases were reported.
After analyzing health data, researchers discovered that people with age-related macular degeneration had a 26% higher chance of developing dementia. Meanwhile, those with cataracts were 11% more likely, and those with diabetes-related eye illness were 61% more likely to develop the ailment. Glaucoma was not shown to be associated with a substantial increase in risk.
Researchers also discovered that patients with heart disease, diabetes, depression, and stroke were more likely to be diagnosed with dementia. According to the researchers, the risk was more heightened among those who had one of these diseases as well as some type of eye problem.