Eye disease patients could have a 60 percent higher risk of ‘developing dementia’

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The risk of the brain condition, one of the leading causes of death, is up to 60 percent higher among people with eye diseases, say scientists.

Conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, depression and strokes have been found to increase chances of dementia.

The odds of having these increase with age, but the same is true for eye conditions.

The study was carried out by Dr Xianwen Shang at the Guangdong Academy of Medical Sciences in China.

He said age-related macular degeneration (AMD), cataract and diabetes-related eye disease – but not glaucoma – are all associated with an increased risk of dementia.

Dr Shang added: “Individuals with both ophthalmic and systemic conditions are at higher risk of dementia compared with those with an ophthalmic or systemic condition only.” Data on 12,364 adults aged 55 to 73 who participated in the UK BioBank study was analysed by the researchers.

Participants were first assessed between 2006 and 2010 and then in early 2021, with 2,304 cases of dementia being recorded in total.

Compared with those with healthy vision, the risk of dementia was 26 per cent higher for people with AMD, 11 percent higher for those with cataracts and 61 percent higher for diabetesrelated eye diseases.

Glaucoma, a condition where the optic nerve becomes damaged, did not, however, increase the risk of dementia, said the study published in the BMJ’s The British Journal of Ophthalmology.

The number of eye diseases recorded was likely underestimated as they were self-reported, the researchers warn. Around six million people are estimated to be living with sight-threatening eye conditions in the UK and 850,000 have dementia.

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