Visual Impairment Linked to Cognitive Dysfunction in Seniors

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After full adjustment, all vision variables were linked to higher odds of dementia.
After full adjustment, all vision variables were linked to higher odds of dementia.

HealthDay News — Visual dysfunction at baseline is associated with poor cognitive function among older US adults, according to a study published in JAMA Ophthalmology.

Stephanie P. Chen, from the Stanford University School of Medicine in California, and colleagues examined the correlation of measured and self-reported visual impairment (VI) with cognition in older US adults in a cross-sectional analysis of 2 datasets. Data were included for 2975 respondents from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) who completed the Digit Symbol Substitution Test (DSST) measuring cognitive performance, and for 30,202 respondents from the National Health and Aging Trends Study (NHATS), with dementia status assessment.

The researchers found that after full adjustment with covariates, distance and subjective VI correlated with lower DSST scores and higher odds of DSST impairment in the NHANES (odds ratios [OR], 2.8 and 2.7, respectively). Lower DSST scores, but not higher odds of DSST impairment, were seen in association with near VI. These results were corroborated with NHATS data; after full adjustment, all vision variables were linked to higher odds of dementia (OR, 1.9, 2,6, and 2.1 for distance VI, near VI, and either distance or near VI, respectively).

"[These findings were] substantiated by a representative sample of US Medicare beneficiaries using self-reported visual function, reinforcing the value of identifying patients with visual compromise," the authors wrote. "Further study of longitudinal interactions between vision and cognition is warranted."

Disclosures: One author disclosed financial ties to Digisight Technologies.

Reference

Chen SP, Bhattacharya J, Pershing S. Association of vision loss with cognition in older adults [published online August 17, 2017]. JAMA Ophthalmol. doi:10.1001/jamaophthalmol.2017.2838

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