The Link Between Loneliness and Vision Impairment on Dementia

A study looked at the role of loneliness as a mediator between vision impairment and dementia. The results were presented at the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) 2021 annual meeting.


In this cross-sectional study, Ken Kitayama, MD, and colleagues, used 2018 Health and Retirement Survey (HRS) public use data to analyze a total of 5,538 individuals, including 81 (1.5%) who reported dementia. The exposure of interest was self-reported eyesight, and the key endpoint was defined as self-reported dementia. The investigators assessed responses indicating any level of loneliness to the question “Yesterday, did you feel lonely?”


According to the results, patients with poor eyesight had 3.6 times the odds of dementia compared to those with excellent eyesight (95% confidence interval, 1.5-8.9), controlling for age and sex. The researchers observed that the proportion of the total effect of eyesight on dementia mediated through loneliness was 7.2% (P = 0.02).


“In the 2018 HRS population, loneliness accounted for a small but significant proportion of the effect of vision impairment on dementia,” the researchers concluded. They added that more studies are needed “to further examine this complex sociobiological relationship.”


Source: Kitayama K, et al. Loneliness Mediates the Effect of Vision Impairment on Dementia. Poster 198. Published for AAO 2021; Nov. 12-15, 2021, New Orleans, LA.