Degenerative eye diseases associated with Alzheimer's risk

Patient examination table in a doctors office

She further said that the details this new study provides is incredible as it gives people a choice to take control over their health.

At the start of the study, those enrolled did not have Alzheimer's but by the end almost 800 developed the disease. Dr. Cecilia Lee, assistant professor of opthalmology at the University of Washington School of Medicine, is the lead author.

"The main message from this study is that ophthalmologists should be more aware of the risks of developing dementia for people with these eye conditions and primary care doctors seeing patients with these eye conditions might be more careful on checking on possible dementia or memory loss", Lee said in a statement.

She said a better understanding of neurodegeneration in the eye and the brain could bring more success in diagnosing Alzheimer's early and developing better treatments.

For the first time, new research shows that aggressively lowering blood pressure could reduce the risk of developing a cognitive disease.

The five-year study followed nearly 4,000 patients over the age of 65, all without clinically diagnosed Alzheimer's disease at the time of enrolment.

According to World Health Organization, worldwide there are about 50 million people living with dementia and about 10 million new cases are added every year.

Because our eyes are connected to the central nervous system, doctors made a decision to look at what's going on in the eye to find out what's also happening in the aging brain.

The eye even has the same type of tissues as the brain, the researchers said. "While we were able to study diagnosed dementia, there is a great need to also identify patients with mild cognitive impairment as well as undiagnosed dementia".

The researchers said several factors suggest the effects they uncovered were specific to ophthalmic conditions and not merely age-related phenomenon.

Crucially, the research showed that elderly people with maculopathy or retinopathy or glaucoma had a 40%-50% higher risk of getting Alzheimer's than people with the same risk factors but without eye problems. Speckien says the disease is impacting more and more people in the local area.

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