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The Potential Link Between Vision Impairment and Dementia

Does poor eyesight contribute to mental decline and dementia as we age? Does correcting vision loss prevent or slow down cognitive (memory loss, poor thinking, etc.) decline?

These are very important questions for all seniors. Recent studies show that the prevalence of dementia is expected to double every 20 years and vision loss increase by two-fold in the next 30 years.

Ophthalmologists have long observed that improving vision by cataract surgery in individual patients can help the mental functioning in mild to moderate dementia. I recently received a phone call from the daughter of a patient with moderate dementia who was elated to tell me that her father’s dementia improved significantly after surgery.

A recent landmark study reveals that vision loss and dementia are significantly associated with one another. This information is tremendously important, given the lack of adequate treatment for dementia and the huge toll that this disease takes on the patient, family and society as a whole.

The five major causes of vision loss in the elderly cataracts, macular degeneration, diabetic eye disease, glaucoma and the need for eyeglasses are all treatable. The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends an eye exam for all individuals over 65 every one to two years.

November 6, 2017