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Vision Impairment Tied to Cognitive Decline

Contrast sensitivity impairment may affect cognitive decline across more domains than other vision measures

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THURSDAY, July 22, 2021 (HealthDay News) -- Worse visual acuity, contrast sensitivity, and stereo acuity impairment are associated with an increased risk for cognitive decline in older, community-dwelling individuals, according to a study published online July 16 in JAMA Network Open.

Varshini Varadaraj, M.D., from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, and colleagues examined the association between vision and cognition across multiple cognitive domains using several measures of vision. The analysis included 1,202 participants (mean age, 71.1 years) in the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging (mean follow-up, 6.9 years).

The researchers found that worse visual acuity (per 0.1 logarithm of the minimal angle of resolution) at baseline was associated with greater declines in language (β, −0.0035) and memory (β, −0.0052) domain scores. There were greater declines in language (β, −0.010), memory (β, −0.009), attention (β, −0.010), and visuospatial ability (β, −0.010) domain scores associated with worse contrast sensitivity (per 0.1 log units) at baseline. Additionally, declines on tests of language (β, −0.019) and memory (β, −0.032) were significantly greater for participants with impaired stereo acuity during the study period.

"These results add further evidence to the interrelationship between vision and eye health with healthy brain aging and highlight the need for research into the impact of vision and eye health interventions on cognitive outcomes," the authors write.

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