Association Between Visual Impairment Severity and Dementia Risk

Pavankumar Kamat

Disclosures

November 09, 2021

Takeaway

  • Moderate to severe visual impairment may be associated with an increased risk of developing dementia.

Why this matters

  • Visual impairment has a high prevalence, especially in middle-later life, but is often treatable or preventable and may be a promising target for dementia prevention.

Study design

  • The study included 62,206 participants (age, 40-69 years) from the UK Biobank (2006-2010) and 7337 participants (age, 40-79 years) from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer in Norfolk (EPIC-Norfolk; 1993-1997) study.

  • Funding: None.

Key results

  • In the UK Biobank:

    • A total of 1113 newly recorded hospital inpatient dementia cases or dementia-registered deaths were reported over 616,117 person-years of follow-up.

    • Mild visual impairment had a weak association with incident dementia (adjusted HR [aHR], 1.26; 95% CI, 0.92-1.72).

    • Moderate to severe visual impairment (aHR, 2.16; 95% CI, 1.37-3.40) was associated with an increased risk of incident dementia.

  • In the EPIC-Norfolk study:

    • A total of 517 incident dementia cases were reported over 68,709 person-years of follow-up.

    • Mild visual impairment had a weak association with incident dementia (aHR, 1.05; 95% CI, 0.72-1.53).

    • Moderate to severe visual impairment (aHR, 1.93; 95% CI, 1.05-3.56) was associated with an increased risk of incident dementia.

  • Upon exclusion participants censored within 5 years of follow-up or with prevalent poor or fair self-reported health, the direction of the associations remained similar for moderate to severe visual impairment, but lost statistical significance.

Limitations

  • The proportion of individuals with moderate visual impairment was small.

  • The study did not evaluate specific dementias, such as Alzheimer’s disease or vascular dementia.

 

Littlejohns TJ, Hayat S, Luben R, Brayne C, Conroy M, Foster PJ, Khawaja AP, Kuźma E. Visual impairment and risk of dementia in two population-based prospective cohorts: UK Biobank and EPIC-Norfolk. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2021 Oct 27 [Epub ahead of print]. doi: 10.1093/gerona/glab325. PMID: 34718565  View abstract 

This clinical summary originally appeared on Univadis, part of the Medscape Professional Network.

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