Retinal Images and Dementia

Recent television news stories have reported the use of digital retinal images to detect the early signs of some forms of dementia.

Of course, early diagnosis also leads to earlier treatment. In a study of 5,553 patients aged over 55 years in the Netherlands, digital retinal images were obtained and then study participants were monitored for an average of 11.6 years. During this time, 655 patients developed dementia.

The results showed that an increased risk of vascular dementia was associated with retinal veins that had a larger callibre, or width.

Digital imaging has always been useful for early detection.

The association with dementia also remained significant even after adjustment for stroke and cardiovascular risk factors.

Digital imaging has always been useful for early detection of diabetic retinal disease and age related macular degeneration. Now these new results for dementia reinforce the procedure’s value, at the time and as a baseline for comparisons.

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Clare Coventry

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