Mental Decline Accelerated With Poor Vision
Having good vision may play an unexpected role on your mental health. According to a study, poor near-range vision could accelerate the onset of Alzheimer's as patients age.
Researchers found that among some 2,100 elderly Hispanic Americans, age 65 and older, those with considerable impairments in their near vision tended to demonstrate a steeper decline in mental function. And while the exact reason for the link is uncertain, poor close-range vision may inhibit good-for-your-brain activities such as:
Learning new skills
... and contribute to cognitive decline. Less visual stimulation to the brain may also affect how nerve cells work, according to researchers.
Throughout the seven-year study, participants were periodically given standard tests of mental function. Both men and women were screened for impairments in their corrected vision; for tests of near vision, they were asked to read numbers from a card while wearing glasses or contact lenses.
While 7 percent of patients had problems with near and distance vision, twice that number had impaired near-range vision.
Compared to their peers, patients who had near-range vision problems showed a quicker rate in decline on mental functioning tests throughout the course of the study.
For uncertain reasons, Hispanic Americans seemed to have an increased rate of age-related cognitive impairment than non-Hispanic older Americans.
Such findings highlight the importance of routine eye care for older adults who are at an increased risk of vision-robbing eye diseases.
Journal of the American Geriatrics Society April 2005, 53(4):681-6
Reuters May 12, 2005