A recent study published in Alzheimer’s & Dementia adds to the evidence that eye conditions can be signs of higher dementia risk. Previous research has linked the buildup of plaque in the back of the eyes with Alzheimer’s and dementia. The current study adds information about a link between three common eye conditions and a higher risk of dementia.

Researchers analyzed data gathered from the Adult Changes in Thought study. They focused on 3,800 participants, both with and without eye disease at the start of the evaluation. Over 792 of them developed dementia. Here are the specific findings.

  • People with age-related macular degeneration were 20% more likely to develop dementia
  • People with diabetic retinopathy were 44% more likely to develop dementia
  • People with glaucoma were 44% more likely to develop dementia

While the specific mechanism behind this connection is still unclear, researchers believe that the link between these eye disorders and dementia is cardiovascular disease. Cardiovascular disease increases the risk for all four of these conditions.

These eye disorders can be detected early if one gets regular eye exams. This means, eye exams may be beneficial for assessing Alzheimer’s and dementia risk.


LEE, CS. “Associations between Recent and Established Ophthalmic Conditions and Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease.” Alzheimer’s & Dementia, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Jan. 2019

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