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Vision Health Care and Dementia

Better Vision Health Care Might Help Prevent Dementia

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Focusing on vision health care in our everyday routines is among the best ways to ensure we will be able to see clearly throughout our lives. While there are many factors – such as genetics – that are outside our control, there are several we can regularly practice to protect our sight. Interestingly, according to a recent study, these practices may also help to protect your mind from dementia. That certainly sounds like a benefit to being able to see as clearly as you can!

Vision Health Care Might Also Protect from Dementia

An analysis recently published in the JAMA Neurology showed that there may be a link between proper vision health care efforts and protection against dementia.

The authors of this study applied data collected from the Health and Retirement Study, which is an ongoing project surveying Americans over the age of 50 years every two years. For the purpose of this recent analysis, the data from the 2018 survey was selected. Of the sample surveyed in the study, 16,690 were selected at random, the majority of whom were at least 65 years old.

The researchers calculated the population attributable fraction (PAF) for dementia within the sample based on a number of common risk factors.  A PAF is an estimate of the proportion of dementia cases that would likely be eliminated from the sample based on removing a given risk factor. 

The most common PAF was hypertension, at 12.4 percent of the sample, followed by obesity at 9.2 percent of the sample.  Depression was next at 9.1 percent, and hearing loss was another 7 percent.

The Relationship Between Sight and Dementia Risk

The PAF ranking of the above factors fell in line with the expectations of the researchers, as prior studies have strongly linked those factors with a heightened risk of dementia. That said, what the analysis also determined was that vision health care could also be a practice to reduce the risk of dementia.

The PAF for vision loss was 1.8 percent, which was comparable to anther science-backed dementia risk factor, social isolation (1.9 percent).

The researchers underscored that this is indeed an observational study and that even the best vision health care would not necessarily stop the onset of dementia. The study also didn’t imply that poor eyesight is a cause of cognitive decline.  That said, what the results did indicate was that by making efforts to improve visual acuity – such as through cataract removal, wearing eyeglasses, or perhaps even choosing the best vision supplements for eye nutrition and wearing sunglasses to protect against UV exposure – actions might have the power to support cognitive fitness as adults age.