A University of Michigan Health System study says that lack of adequate vision coverage of older adults may put them at increased risk of Alzheimer's disease - the most common form of dementia.
The study, which used Medicare data, showed that those with poor vision who visited an ophthalmologist at least once for an examination were 64 percent less likely to develop dementia.
The study appears online ahead of print in the American Journal of Epidemiology.
"Visual problems can have serious consequences and are very common among the elderly, but many of them are not seeking treatment," says lead author Mary A.M. Rogers, Ph.D, research assistant professor of internal medicine at the U-M Medical School and research director of the Patient Safety Enhancement Program at the U-M Health System and the Ann Arbor VA Medical Center.
To reach the conclusion, Rogers and her colleague Kenneth M. Langa, M.D., Ph.D., professor of internal medicine at U-M Medical School, analyzed data from the nationally representative Health and Retirement Study and records from Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
"Our results indicate that it is important for elderly individuals with visual problems to seek medical attention so that the causes of the problems can be identified and treated," Rogers says.
The types of vision treatment that were helpful in lowering the risk of dementia were surgery to correct cataracts and treatments for glaucoma, retinal disorders and other eye-related problems.