Réseau de recherche en santé de la vision Logo fonds de la recherche du Québec - santé Logo

Age-related eye disease and cognitive function. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. Harrabi H, Kergoat MJ, Rousseau J, Boisjoly H, Schmaltz H, Moghadaszadeh S, Roy-Gagnon MH, Freeman EE. 2015 Feb 3; 56(2):1217-21.

→ PudMed link

The goal of our study was to determine if older adults with eye disease had worse cognitive scores than people with normal vision.  In a study of 420 older adults in Montreal, we found that patients with age-related macular degeneration, Fuch’s corneal dystrophy, and glaucoma all had lower cognitive scores than a control group with normal vision.  Reasons why age-related eye disease and cognitive decline are related need further investigation. Cognitive decline is a major risk factor for admission to nursing home facilities and a great cost to society. Efforts to better understand and prevent cognitive decline in people with poor vision are necessary.

 *    *    *

Original Abstract

PURPOSE. To determine whether people with age-related eye disease have lower cognitive scores than people with healthy vision.

METHODS. A hospital-based cross-sectional study was performed in which 420 people aged 65 and older from the ophthalmology clinics at Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital (Montreal, Canada) were recruited who had age-related macular degeneration (AMD), Fuch’s corneal dystrophy, or glaucoma. Patients with AMD and Fuchs had to have visual acuity in the better eye of worse than 20/40 while patients with glaucoma had to have visual field in their worse eye of at least [1]4 dB. Controls, recruited from the same clinics, did not have significant vision loss. Cognitive status was measured using the Mini-Mental State Exam Blind Version (range, 0– 22) which excludes eight items that rely on vision. Linear regression with bootstrapped standard errors was used to adjust for demographic and medical factors.

RESULTS. People with AMD, Fuch’s corneal dystrophy, and glaucoma had lower cognitive scores, on average, than controls (P < 0.05). These relationships remained statistically significant after adjusting for factors such as age, sex, race, education, living alone, systemic comorbidities, and lens opacity.

CONCLUSIONS. People with vision loss due to three different age-related eye diseases had lower cognitive scores. Reasons for this should be explored using longitudinal studies and a full battery of cognitive tests that do not rely on vision.