Association of Vision Impairment with Cognitive Decline across Multiple Domains in Older Adults

Varshini Varadaraj, Beatriz Munoz, Jennifer A. Deal, Yang An, Marilyn S. Albert, Susan M. Resnick, Luigi Ferrucci, Bonnielin K. Swenor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Importance: Associations between visual and global cognitive impairments have been previously documented, but there is limited research examining these associations between multiple measures of vision across cognitive domains. Objective: To examine the association between vision and cognitive across multiple cognitive domains using multiple measures of vision. Design, Setting, and Participants: This longitudinal cohort study used data from the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging for 2003 to 2019. Participants in the current study were aged 60 to 94 years with vision and cognitive measures. Data analysis was performed from May 2020 to May 2021. Main Outcomes and Measures: Cognitive function was measured across multiple domains, including language, memory, attention, executive function, and visuospatial ability. Cognitive domain scores were calculated as the mean of standardized cognitive test scores within each domain. Visual function was assessed using measures of visual acuity, contrast sensitivity, and stereo acuity at baseline. Results: Analyses included 1202 participants (610 women [50.8%]; 853 White participants [71.0%]) with a mean (SD) age of 71.1 (8.6) years who were followed up for a mean (SD) of 6.9 (4.7) years. Worse visual acuity (per 0.1 logarithm of the minimal angle of resolution) at baseline was associated with greater declines in language (β, -0.0035; 95% CI, -0.007 to -0.001) and memory (β, -0.0052; 95% CI, -0.010 to -0.001) domain scores. Worse contrast sensitivity (per 0.1 log units) at baseline was associated with greater declines in language (β, -0.010; 95% CI, -0.014 to -0.006), memory (β, -0.009; 95% CI, -0.015 to -0.003), attention (β, -0.010; 95% CI, -0.017 to -0.003), and visuospatial ability (β, -0.010; 95% CI, -0.017 to -0.002) domain scores. Over the follow-up period, declines on tests of language (β, -0.019; 95% CI, -0.034 to -0.005) and memory (β, -0.032; 95% CI, -0.051 to -0.012) were significantly greater for participants with impaired stereo acuity compared with those without such impairment. Conclusions and Relevance: These findings suggest that the association between vision and cognition differs between visual acuity, contrast sensitivity, and stereo acuity and that patterns of cognitive decline may differ by type of vision impairment, with impaired contrast sensitivity being associated with declines across more cognitive domains than other measures of visual functioning..

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2117416
JournalJAMA Network Open
Volume4
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 16 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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