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Approved Research

Mechanisms linking visual impairment and cognitive impairment in mid-aged and older adults

Principal Investigator: Dr Diane Zheng
Approved Research ID: 73319
Approval date: September 21st 2021

Lay summary

Visual impairment is one of the most disabling chronic conditions that older adults face.  Visual impairment diminishes communication and can cause social isolation, reduced independence, and decreased quality of life.  Visual impairment is associated with an increased risk of depression, mortality, and cognitive impairment.  The number of visually impaired people aged 50 years and older is estimated to be 186 million worldwide in 2010.   The prevalence of blindness and visual impairment increases rapidly with age among all racial and ethnic groups. 

Cognitive impairment is another serious health concern among the elderly.  The number of adults affected by visual impairment and cognitive impairment will increase dramatically over the coming decades due to the rapid aging of the population.  Visual impairment has been shown to be associated with cognitive impairment in older adults. However, the mechanisms that visual impairment affects cognitive functioning in older adults are unclear.  This study proposed to utilize the rich data of UK Biobank to examine these associations. 

Our research will provide strong support for improving eyesight to help slow down the cognitive decline in mid-aged and older people. Vision is one of the few risk factors for cognitive decline that is modifiable.  Poor vision and vision diseases are highly treatable, vision loss can be reduced when detected early.  This project will contribute to early interventions to preserve vision as a way of alleviating age-related cognitive decline.  The expected during of the project will be 36 months.