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Maintaining Healthy Eyesight May Protect Against Mental Decline In Old Age

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Findings of a new study, which involved more than 2,500 adults in the United States, have found a link between worsening vision and declining cognitive function.

Vision Loss Linked To Decline In Mental Function

In the new study, which was published in the journal JAMA Ophthalmology on June 28, D. Diane Zheng, from the University of Miami, and colleagues analyzed the health data of the participants whose age ranged from 65 to 84 years old.

The researchers found an association between the rate of vision loss and declining mental function. The cognitive function nonetheless did not have a strong effect on vision.

Reason To Maintain Healthy Eyesight

Zheng said that the study is the first one to show that eyesight is a dominant factor in the link between loss of vision and mental function. However, the findings did not prove that vision loss causes mental decline.

Vision loss and mental decline commonly occur among aging Americans and the findings suggest that preventing or treating eye problems may help ward off mental decline in old age.

"Worsening vision in older adults may be adversely associated with future cognitive functioning. Maintaining good vision may be an important interventional strategy for mitigating age-related cognitive declines," the researchers wrote in their study.

Visual Acuity And Cognitive Function

Two theories may help explain the link between visual impairment and cognitive function in old age. The first one proposes that visual impairment can limit the activities that maintain well-being, which can lessen brain stimulation.

The second theory hypothesizes that both the decline in visual acuity and cognition have a common cause such as inflammation or the degeneration of the central nervous function.

Keeping The Eyes Healthy

Good eye health begins with the food that a person eats. Nutrients such as lutein, zinc, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin C, and Vitamin E may help ward off age-related vision problems such as cataract and macular degeneration.

A healthy lifestyle is also crucial. Smoking can damage the optic nerves. Studies have likewise shown that people who exercise regularly were less likely to develop serious eye diseases.

Wearing the right pair of sunglasses can protect the eyes from UV rays of the sun that can raise the risk of eye conditions. For those who use hazardous materials on the job or at home must consider using safety glasses or protective goggles.

Getting regular eye exam is also helpful as this can help detect eye diseases early, particularly those that do not have symptoms.

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