Researchers have may be found a method in order to predict the onset of developing memory and its' problems among aged people. In a recent study, researchers from the University of New York, report middle-aged people with evidence of damage to the small arteries in their retinas have lower scores on tests to measure cognitive abilities.
Doctors have long suspected Alzheimer's disease and dementia are related to cerebral microvascular disease, a condition in which the small arteries in the brain are damaged. Few studies have been done on the link, primarily because it is difficult to look inside the brain for these abnormalities. These investigators studied microvascular abnormalities in retinas a hallmark of cerebral microvascular disease and an easy site to examine through noninvasive measures -- to see if those with evidence of the damage would score lower on cognitive tests.
The study involved about 7,500 older people who were examined every four years between 1988 and 1999. At the fourth visit, the participants had retinal photographs taken to evaluate for microvascular abnormalities. Cognitive tests were given during the second and fourth visits. None of the participants had suffered a stroke or were taking any central nervous system-related medications.
Results showed those with evidence of the abnormalities were significantly more likely to have lower test scores. Depending on the type of damage, people were 1.4 to 4.1 times more likely to score in the lower extremes on the tests. Lead author Tien Yin Wong, M.D., M.P.H., says, "This study shows that people with cognitive dementia are more likely to have pathological changes in the retinal vessels, which may be a reflection of similar pathological changes in the brain."