Elderly individuals who demonstrate cognitive impairment are more likely to also demonstrate age-related macular degeneration (AMD), according to findings published in Mays Archives of Ophthalmology.

Researchers examined a subset of participants in the Cardiovascular Health Study, and retinal photographs of these 2,088 patients were used to diagnose early or late AMD. Patients also underwent cognitive assessmentsa Digit Symbol Substitution Test (DSST) and the Modified Mini-Mental State Examination (3MSE).

Out of a total of 2,088 patients, AMD was present in 351; 324 demonstrated early AMD, and 27 presented with late AMD. DSST and 3MSE scores decreased with age in all participants, but patients with early AMD consistently demonstrated slightly lower scores than those patients with no AMD. After researchers adjusted for age, sex and ethnicity, patients with low DSST scores were significantly more likely to demonstrate early AMD than those with higher scores. Further investigation into this trend found that the decline in DSST scoresnot 3MSE scoresacross time was significantly associated with early AMD.

But, there was no increased likelihood of AMD in the 135 patients in the study who were diagnosed with either dementia or Alzheimers disease.
Researchers suggest that AMD and cognitive impairment may share similar complex pathogenesis and risk factors.

Baker ML, Wang JJ, Rogers S, et al. Early age-related macular degeneration, cognitive function, and dementia. Arch Ophthalmol 2009 May;127(5):667-73.

Vol. No: 146:06Issue: 6/15/2009