Age-Related Macular Degeneration, Alzheimer's,
Dementia Not Linked in Older People
Very large study in England looked for links between
these diseases closely associated with aging
Nov. 14, 2013 – Alzheimer’s disease (AD), dementia
and the eye disease age-related macular degeneration (AMD) are all
strongly associated with advancing age. A very large study of patients
in England has determined, however, that there is no association between
having AMD and then developing dementia or AD.
Several previous studies have reported an
association between AMD and cognitive impairment, based on mental state
examination or word fluency scores.
Demographics of People Admitted to the Hospital
With Age-Related Macular Degeneration and Dementia
English national hospital episode statistics (HES), from January
1, 1999, through February 28, 2011
AMD and AD are diseases that share environmental
risk factors, including cigarette smoking, high blood pressure and high
cholesterol and other features such as the depositing of plaques in the
brain. But the genetic risk factors for AMD and AD seem to be different,
according to the report published by JAMA Ophthalmology, a JAMA
Tiarnan D.L. Keenan, M.R.C.Ophth, of the University
of Manchester, England, and colleagues examined whether patients
admitted to the hospital with AMD were more likely to develop AD or
dementia in the following years.
A group of 65,894 patients with AMD was constructed
from data in the English National Health Service. A dementia group
(168,092 patients) and a reference group (more than 7.7 million people)
were assembled in similar ways. Researchers measured the risk of AD or
dementia following AMD and the risk of AMD following AD or dementia.
The study indicates that risk of AD or dementia
after AMD was not elevated. However, the study findings indicate that
patients in England with dementia may be less likely to receive
treatment for AMD and several factors may contribute to this, including
that patients with dementia may be less likely to get their eyes
“In conclusion, these data provide evidence that
there is no positive association between AMD and dementia or AD.
However, people with dementia in England are substantially less likely
to undergo treatment for AMD than those without dementia. Potential
barriers to care for these vulnerable individuals need to be examined
and addressed in the near future,” the study concludes
Editor’s Note: This study was supported by the
English National Institute for Health Research and by Fight for Sight.
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