Combination of hearing and vision problems linked to dementia risk
07 April 2021
Neurology: Dual Sensory Impairment and Cognitive Impairment in the Korean Longitudinal Elderly Cohort
Researchers in Korea have found that people with both vision and hearing problems are more likely to experience cognitive decline and develop dementia than those without sensory impairments.
The study was part of the Korean Longitudinal Study on Cognitive Aging and Dementia (KLOSCAD), which aims to evaluate cognitive ageing and dementia in older Koreans.
This research involved 6,520 people aged between 58 and 101, from urban and rural settings. The Researchers asked participants whether they had hearing or vision problems and 932 reported having normal sensory function, 2,957 had a single sensory impairment (either hearing or vision problems) and 2,631 had both hearing and vision impairments.
Participants took part in memory and thinking tests at the start of the study and these were repeated every two years. In this study, the researchers have analysed data collected over six years.
The researchers found that having both hearing and vision problems was associated with an increased risk of dementia and cognitive decline. The presence of either visual impairment or of hearing impairment alone was not linked to dementia risk or a faster decline in memory and thinking skills.
Dr Sara Imarisio, Head of Research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said:
“Over the last decade, research has revealed a link between hearing loss and dementia risk, but this study finds that only hearing loss and visual problems together worsened cognitive decline. Future studies need to consider how different lifestyle, health and genetic factors interact to affect dementia risk. This could help us to identify people at risk earlier and empower individuals to take targeted steps to reduce their risk of dementia.
“Alzheimer’s Research UK has made the UK’s largest charitable investment in dementia risk reduction research, including a study investigating whether treating hearing loss could lower dementia risk. To find out more about your brain health and how to protect it, visit www.thinkbrainhealth.org.uk”