Alzheimer patients suffer bad sight loss
Researchers have found that Alzheimer's patients have "significantly worse" vision than others in their age group and are more likely to be deficient in key nutrients in the eye.
The team from the Vision Research Centre at Waterford Institute of Technology also discovered that it's possible to improve the vision of patients with Alzheimer's by providing supplements that include the carotenoid macular pigment.
The findings have been published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.
Future phases of the research project, led by Professor John Nolan and Professor Stephen Beatty along with Professor Riona Mulcahy of the Age-Related Care Unit at University Hospital Waterford, will follow a cohort of patients with early signs of cognitive decline over a three-year period.
They will investigate whether taking supplements can arrest the decline in cognitive function, and possibly improve it.
Professor Nolan said Alzheimer's is the single most common form of demential, affecting an estimated 48,000 people in Ireland.
"In the absence of a cure for Alzheimer's, it is vital that we look at risk factors and establish patterns between Alzheimer's disease and other conditions," he said.
Prof Mulcahy, who works with Alzheimer's patients at UHW, said there is now a solid research basis to build from.
"Given the growing prevalence of Alzheimer's and our ageing population, there is a real urgency to make progress in this field and that challenge brings exciting opportunities to collaborate with colleagues from other disciplines."