MONDAY, July 16, 2018 (HealthDay News) — Older adults’ worsening vision may drive declines in cognitive function, according to a study published online July 10 in JAMA Ophthalmology.

D. Diane Zheng, from the University of Miami, and colleagues evaluated the longitudinal associations between visual impairment and cognitive function over time in 2,520 community-residing older adults (aged 65 to 84 years). More than half of participation loss over the four-year follow-up was due to death.

The researchers observed significant mean biannual declines in visual acuity (VA) and Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) scores (both P < 0.001). Worse baseline VA was associated with worse baseline MMSE score (P < 0.001), while the rate of worsening VA was associated with the rate of declining MMSE score (P = 0.03). The standardized effect size of VA on MMSE score was larger than the reverse effect, demonstrating that VA is likely the driving force in these dynamic associations.

“Worsening vision in older adults may be adversely associated with future cognitive functioning,” the authors write. “Maintaining good vision may be an important interventional strategy for mitigating age-related cognitive declines.”

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