-- Robert Preidt
FRIDAY, Nov. 15, 2013 (HealthDay News) -- No link seems to exist
between the common eye condition known as age-related macular
degeneration and either dementia or Alzheimer's disease, a large
new study shows.
Age-related macular degeneration is a leading cause of vision
loss among people aged 50 and older, according to the U.S. National
Eye Institute. The condition leads to damage to the macula, which
is a small spot near the center of the retina. The macula is needed
for sharp central vision, which allows people to see objects
straight ahead of them.
Dementia, Alzheimer's disease and age-related macular
degeneration are all strongly associated with aging. These
conditions share risk factors such as smoking, high blood pressure
and high cholesterol. However, the genetic risk factors for the eye
condition and Alzheimer's or other dementia seem to be different,
according to study background information.
British researchers examined whether people with age-related
macular degeneration were more likely to develop
dementia/Alzheimer's or vice versa. The study included nearly
66,000 patients with the vision condition, more than 168,000
patients with Alzheimer's or other dementia, and more than 7.7
million people in a comparison group.
The results showed that people with macular degeneration
condition did not have an increased risk of Alzheimer's or other
dementia. The report is published online Nov. 14 in the journal
However, patients with dementia appeared to be less likely to
receive treatment for their macular degeneration. Several factors
may contribute to this. One might be that people with dementia are
less likely to get eye exams, the researchers said in a journal
"These data provide evidence that there is no positive association between [age-related macular degeneration] and dementia or [Alzheimer's disease]," wrote Tiarnan Keenan, of the University of Manchester, and colleagues.
"However, people with dementia in England are substantially less likely to undergo treatment for [the vision condition] than those without dementia," they added. "Potential barriers to care for these vulnerable individuals need to be examined and addressed in the near future."
The U.S. National Eye Institute has more about
age-related macular degeneration.
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