More and more research continues to uncover a close link between retinal function and cognitive health. Early studies indicate optical coherence tomography angiography (OCT-A) can detect significantly decreased GC-IPL thickness, as well as significant decreased parafoveal superficial capillary plexus vessel density and adjusted flow index in patients with mild cognitive impairment.1,2 ODs may have one more reason to be integral to the care team for patients with cognitive decline, considering another study recently found a significant association between dementia/Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which they note calls for greater clinical awareness.3

The team performed a meta-analysis of cross-sectional, case-control and cohort studies that evaluated the association between dementia/AD and AMD as the outcome. Studies that compared cognitive functions between AMD and controls were also included. Among 2,159 citation records, the authors identified 21 relevant studies comprising 7,876,499 study subjects. They found that patients with dementia or AD were at risk for AMD, particularly late-stage disease. They note that AMD was also significantly associated with an increased risk of AD and cognitive impairment. They add that both the Mini-Mental State Examination and the Trail Making Test A showed patients with AMD had poorer cognitive function compared with controls.

“A significant association between dementia/AD and AMD calls for greater clinical awareness,” including the feasibility of adopting routine eye exams as a screening tool, the authors wrote in their paper.

1. Yoon SP, Grewal DS, Thompson AC, et al. Retinal microvascular and neurodegenerative changes in Alzheimer’s disease and mild cognitive impairment compared with control participants. Opthalmology. March 11, 2019. [Epub ahead of print].

2. Zhang Y, Zhou N, Knoll B, et al. Parafoveal vessel loss and correlation between peripapillary vessel density and cognitive performance in amnestic mild cognitive impairment and early Alzheimer’s disease on optical coherence tomography angiography. April 2, 2019. Accessed April 15, 2019.

3. Rong SS, Lee BY, Kuk AK, et al. Comorbidity of dementia and age-related macular degeneration calls for clinical awareness: a meta-analysis. Br J Ophthalmol. April 18, 2019. [Epub ahead of print].