Staying sharp

By • Published: April 26th, 2010
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

OK, the words on the page seem a little fuzzy.

And the signs along the road are a little harder to read than they used to be.

But no big deal, right? Just typical aging?

If that’s what you’re thinking, think again.

Scientists suspect that difficulties in maintaining visual focus may be associated with problems of mental focus in older people.

In fact, poor vision… long considered a symptom of dementia… may actually be a predictor for the disease.

Researchers with the University of Michigan looked at medical information from six-hundred-twenty-five people compiled from 1992 to 2005.

They discovered that older people with bad eyesight who visited an ophthalmologist at least once were far less likely to develop dementia than people who let their poor vision slide.

In particular, surgery to correct cataracts and treatments for glaucoma, retinal disorders and other eye-related problems appeared to be especially helpful in lowering the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

Doctors aren’t certain why, but the preservation of mental faculties could be because reading, playing board games, socializing and exercising… activities that all depend on good eyesight… are thought to lower the risk of Alzheimer’s.

Vision problems can have serious consequences and are common among the elderly… ranking among the top 10 disabilities.

Yet not everyone seeks help.

That can be unfortunate. Overlooking a vision problem can have serious consequences, especially considering eye maladies such as glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy usually have no early warning signs and can only be detected during an examination.

Factor in increased likelihood of dementia, and it becomes clear that good eyesight is important for staying sharp… in more ways than one.