It’s possible that doctors could predict your future brain health by looking into your eyes. But this discovery can do more than help doctors predict the future: it might offer you another tool to keep your brain healthy in the future to prevent or delay dementia.
Harvard University reports that a growing body of research has indicated close ties between common eye conditions and dementia and Alzheimer’s risk. Researchers of a new study are suggesting that the same factors that can lead to conditions like glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration (AMD), and diabetic retinopathy are tied to brain health.
The new study, called The Adult Changes in Thought Study, began in 1994 and followed 5,400 dementia-free adults. Here is what the authors found:
- People with AMD were 20-percent more likely to develop dementia than those who did not have the eye disease.
- People with diabetic retinopathy were 44-percent more likely to develop dementia than those without it.
- People with a recent glaucoma diagnosis also had a 44-percent higher risk for dementia.
Right now, researchers contend there is still a lot of work to be done but going for an eye exam every couple of years may help with early detection of any issues that indicate eye health. Researchers will continue to further explore if treatments for these conditions can offer benefits for dementia.
Currently, the only known preventative measure for Alzheimer’s and dementia is preventing cardiovascular disease. Dietary measures like eating lots of fruits and vegetables and other highly nutritious foods, regular exercise, and maintaining a healthy weight are the best natural ways to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Certain nutrients may have specific benefits for eye health. Lutein, zeaxanthin, vitamin E, vitamin C, and omega-3’s all play a big role in eye health. These nutrients are found in leafy greens, colorful fruits and vegetables, fatty fish, and nuts. Essentially, eating for eye health is the same as eating for heart, and thereby brain, health.
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- How dementia progresses: The 7 stages of dementia