A University of Michigan study finds a link between vision and Alzheimer’s. The study was based on medical information and surveys from 625 people compiled from 1992-2005. None of these individuals had dementia at the beginning of the study. Using a scale ranking vision from excellent (one) to totally blind (six), researchers found that the risk for dementia increased by an average of 52 percent with each step up the scale. The study’s lead author, Mary A.M. Rogers, PhD, said the study’s results suggest that problems with declining vision precedes dementia and that treatment of vision problems, including proper prescription eyeglasses, cataract removal and lens insertion, corneal transplant and treatment for retinal detachment, lesions and other eye disorders, decreases the probability of developing dementia.
Why this link between vision and dementia? Dr. Rogers suggests that people with poor vision may be less likely to participate in the kinds of activities that protect cognitive function, such as reading, doing crossword puzzles, playing board games and engaging in physical activities. She also said that other research indicates that vision loss can lead to structural changes in the brain, but notes that more studies are needed to understand why.