This eye disease could mean higher risk of cognitive decline

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In a recent study published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology, researchers found a type of glaucoma called normal-tension glaucoma is linked to an increased risk of cognitive impairment and possibly dementia.

The disease pathway for normal-tension glaucoma is not fully understood, but the findings suggest that it may share similar neurodegenerative pathways with dementia.

The study is from Flinders University. One author is Dr. Sean Mullany.

Glaucoma is a condition in which the optic nerve becomes damaged and this can eventually lead to blindness.

In most types of glaucoma, the damage is caused by a build-up of pressure in the eye, but this is not the case with normal-tension glaucoma.

Primary open-angle glaucoma encompasses not only low-tension glaucoma or normal-tension glaucoma (NTG), where the pressure in the eye is not raised above normal levels but also high-tension glaucoma (HTG), where the pressure in the eye is high.

Normal-tension glaucoma is more common in Asia, while high-tension glaucoma is more common in Europe.

Two of the studies which showed a link between primary open-angle glaucoma and dementia included lots of people of Asian ethnicity.

In the study, the team examined 248 patients aged at least 65 years who had normal-tension glaucoma.

These were matched by age and sex with 349 patients with high-tension glaucoma.

All patients were invited to participate in a health questionnaire and cognitive assessment over the telephone. A total of 290 patients—144 with normal-tension glaucoma and 146 with high-tension glaucoma—had the cognitive screen.

The team found that cognitive impairment was more than twice as prevalent in patients with normal-tension glaucoma than it was in those with high-tension glaucoma.

They say the finding of an association between normal-tension glaucoma and cognitive impairment suggests an association between normal-tension glaucoma and dementia.

If you care about eye health, please read studies about how to prevent age-related eye disease effectively and findings of how to protect your eye health from diabetes.

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