How correcting poor vision can maintain a healthy brain


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How correcting poor vision can maintain a healthy brain

Beitragvon geemong » 11 Sep 2021, 06:23

How correcting poor vision can maintain a healthy brain


Medical practice tends to divide its clients – you and me – into specialties defined by body parts: ophthalmology, neurology,
gastroenterology, psychiatry and the like. But in fact, the human body doesn’t function in silos. Rather, it works as an
integrated whole, and what goes awry in one part of the body can affect several others.

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I’ve written about the potential harm of hearing loss to brain health, as well as to the health of our bones, hearts and
emotional well-being.

Untreated hearing loss can increase the risk of dementia. Even those with slightly less than perfect hearing can have
measurable cognitive deficits.

Now, a growing body of research is demonstrating that vision loss can affect the brain’s function, too. As with hearing,
if the brain has to work extra hard to make sense of what our eyes see, it can take a toll on cognitive function.

The latest study, published in JAMA Network Open in July, followed 1,202 men and women aged 60 to 94 for an average
of nearly seven years. All were part of the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Ageing, and had vision and cognition tests
every one to four years between 2003 and 2019.

The researchers found that those who scored poorly on initial tests of visual acuity – how well, for example, they could
see the letters on an eye chart from a given distance – were more likely to have cognitive decline over time, including
deficits in language, memory, attention and the ability to identify and locate objects in space.

Other vision issues, like with depth perception and the ability to see contrasts, also had deleterious effects
on cognitive ability.

The lead researcher, Bonnielin Swenor, an epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Wilmer Eye Institute, said that
the new study “adds to mounting longitudinal data showing that vision impairment can lead to cognitive decline
in older adults”.
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