Untreated Poor Vision: A Contributing Factor to Late Life Dementia
Mary A. M. Rogers
The National Institute on Aging
American Journal of Epidemiology
This study’s results suggest that treatment of visual disorders may delay the diagnosis of dementia, particularly Alzheimer disease.
The results of this study suggest that, whatever visual impairments existed, eye-related services may have delayed the date on which the individual met the definition of dementia.
Ancillary evidence is provided by factors reported to reduce the risk of dementia, including physical activity and mental stimulation—both of which may be impacted by visual loss. Visual problems may also influence the extent of social interactions and networking; the pathology underlying Alzheimer disease has been found to be modified by social networking
Although there was no significant difference in the use of glasses or contact lenses at baseline, there was an association with vision. This finding could indicate that, whatever visual disorders existed at that time, glasses could not correct for these deficiencies. Alternatively, it may indicate that the glasses being utilized by some subjects did not adequately correct problems with visual acuity (e.g., an outdated prescription).
Since routine eye screening is not currently covered for Medicare beneficiaries, the study’s findings encourage an investigation of the cost-effectiveness of providing Medicare coverage for at least one vision screening for beneficiaries to postpone cognitive decline later in life.