Does Poor Vision Lead to Poor Cognition?

A growing number of studies suggest that poor vision may lead to a decline in cognitive ability. The latest study published in JAMA Ophthalmology found that among a representative sample of 2975 older Americans, and a second sample of 30, 202 Medicare beneficiaries, poor vision was associated with poor cognition.[1]

While the study didn’t prove that vision loss caused cognitive decline, according to one of the authors, Dr. Suzann Pershing, “intuitively it makes sense that the less engaged people are with the world, the less cognitive stimulation they receive and the more likely their cognitive function will decline.” The number of Americans with poor vision is expected to double by 2050 so this study highlights the importance of vision screening to identify patients with eye disease to potentially decrease decreased cognition. The JAMA study also noted that hearing loss has also been shown to be associated with cognitive decline and dementia.[2]

Dr. Koster and the American Academy of Ophthalmology strong recommend vision screening for the older population owing to the quality of life impact of available treatments for vision problems and now the potential to prevent poor cognition.

[1] Stephanie P. Chen, BS; Jay Bhattacharya, MD, PhD; Suzann Pershing, MD, MS. Association of Vision Loss with Cognition in Older Adults. JAMA Ophthalmol. 2017;135(9):963-970. Published online: August 17, 2017.

[2] Lin FR. Hearing Loss and Cognition Among Older Adults in the United States. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci.2011;66(10):1131-1136.

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