Visual impairment may be a risk factor for dementia, according to the results of a study published in JAMA Ophthalmology.

In a prospective, longitudinal cohort study of 1061 women aged between 66 and 84 years, investigators compared the likelihood of incident dementia or mild cognitive impairment (MCI) among women with and without baseline visual impairment. Data showed that women with baseline objective visual impairment were more likely to develop dementia after an average follow-up of 3.8 years.

The investigators found that women with visual acuity of 20/100 or worse at baseline were at the greatest risk for developing dementia. When it came to the potential for developing MCI, this group also had the greatest risk.

Although there is no underlying mechanism specifically associating cognitive and visual impairment, the investigators noted that the relationship between cognitive and visual function is likely bidirectional and multifactorial.

This article was originally published in sister publication the American Journal of Managed Care®.

Tran EM, Stefanick ML, Henderson VW, et al. Association of visual impairment with risk of incident dementia in a Women’s Health Initiative population. JAMA Ophthalmol. 2020;138(6):1-10. doi:10.1001/jamaophthalmol.2020.0959