Can Eye Exams Alert Seniors at Risk of Dementia?

Regular eye exams may do more than simply catch vision problems: A new study is the latest evidence that certain types of vision problems may indicate an elevated risk of dementia.

Physicians have long observed a link between vision loss and cognitive decline, and many studies have demonstrated that older adults with impaired vision feature twice the risk of developing conditions like dementia and Alzheimer's disease.

The latest evidence featuring a study of 1,200 adults strengthens the evidence for this link. Researchers monitored the vision of adults with dementia for 16 years, checking for three different types of vision loss. They also measured the adults’ language, memory, attention and various measures of mental agility, including the abilities to plan, pay attention, remember instructions and juggle multiple tasks.

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Safe Vision Texas reminds seniors to follow the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s recommendation for all healthy adults to have a baseline eye exam with an ophthalmologist by age 40. Seniors over the age of 65 are recommended to see an ophthalmologist every one to two years.

“This study should strengthen our desire to protect the eyes as we age. Doing so benefits our overall health, and may also help protect our cognitive health,” says ophthalmologist J. Kevin McKinney, MD, an Academy member and glaucoma specialist.