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Vision Problems Can Lead To a Strained Brain

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Our body’s many systems are sometimes viewed and treated as isolated parts. But the truth is that each system works with and influences other systems and areas of the body. This holds true for the visual system and cognitive health; although their pathways may be different, their relationship is symbiotic.

Recent studies, such as the one published in JAMA Network, Ophthalmology (July 2021), have found that visual health can be a predictor for future cognitive health or decline. The study followed 1202 men and women aged 60-94 over the course of 16 years. The results indicated that the participants with the lowest initial visual acuity scores were more likely to experience cognitive decline than participants with clear vision.

In other words, people who could easily see the smaller letters on the eye chart were less likely to have problems with memory, language, attention and spatial awareness as they aged.

Another longitudinal study published in JAMA Network, Ophthalmology (Sept 2018) underscores these findings. It suggests that maintaining good vision may help prevent age-related cognitive problems.

Although cognitive decline and worsening vision are both common symptoms of aging, studying the relationship between the two helps researchers understand how to better preserve cognitive functioning in older adults.

The theory behind this relationship is that when the brain has to work overtime to create clear images, it has less ‘bandwidth’ for cognitive processes like linguistics and concentration. Correcting vision problems using glasses or contact lenses helps to relieve the brain of unnecessary strain and allows it to function more efficiently.

At New Era Eyecare in Clifton, we provide all of our patients with the quality eye care they need for lifelong visual health. By keeping your eyes healthy and vision clear, you’ll be paving your way towards a brighter future.

To schedule your eye exam or learn more about our many services, call New Era Eyecare in Clifton, Arlington, Sterling, Alexandria, Leesburg, Arlington - Ballston, or Alexandria - Old Town today!

At New Era Eyecare, we put your family's needs first. Talk to us about how we can help you maintain healthy vision. Call us today: 703-830-3977 or book an appointment online to see one of our Clifton eye doctors.

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Q&A

How often do I need an eye exam?

According to the American Optometric Association, adults between the ages of 18-65 should have a comprehensive eye exam with an optometrist every 1-2 years, or as often as directed by their optometrist. Senior citizens and those at risk of vision problems should visit their optometrist at least once a year.

Is it possible to detect cognitive problems through an eye exam?

No. However, there are certain tests used by many eye doctors that can detect minor yet significant changes in the blood vessels of the retina that could mirror blood vessel changes in the brain. Such changes can help clue in your eye doctor and primary care provider about possible problems on the horizon, like dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.