Glaucoma Associated with Cognitive Impairment, Depression in Older Adults

Although it does not prove a direct link between glaucoma and cognitive impairment, a recent study found higher rates of depression and cognitive impairment among older adults with glaucoma compared to other older adults.

The study looked at 41 glaucoma patients at the University of Colorado’s Glaucoma Service. The average age of the patients was 70. The study’s author is Dr. Brian P. Yochim. The study can be found in the Journal of Glaucoma.

The study found 22 percent of these patients were experiencing cognitive impairment, as measured by memory and verbal fluency tests to detect dementia. In comparison, 16 percent of older adults in the general population have some level of cognitive impairment.

The rate of depression among glaucoma patients was actually lower than researchers expected. Depression is an understandable outcome for someone facing deteriorating sight. In the study, patients were found to have depression at a rate of 12 percent, compared to 1 to 5 percent in the general population of older adults.

The study’s finding may explain why some older glaucoma patients have problems sticking to a treatment regimen. Memory problems could make it difficult for a patient to consistently take the right medication, at the right time.

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