A weekly roundup of ophthalmic news from around the web.
Poor cognition could be due to AMD, not dementia. Older adults with visual impairments such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD) are known to be more vulnerable to mental and physical comorbidities such as dementia and Parkinson's disease, yet it is thought that up to 25% of patients with AMD have undiagnosed disease. Investigators in Australia theorized that using AMD simulations in people in good health with normal vision could help assess the effects of visual deterioration on cognition. Twenty-four study participants aged 18–60 years were asked to complete 2 cognitive-related tasks while wearing AMD simulation goggles. While wearing the goggles, the participants' mental response times were longer and motor responses were slower. Verbal fluency remained largely unchanged. Clinicians seeing patients with AMD or similar conditions should take this into account to avoid potentially misdiagnosing poor cognition. Scientific Reports
Want to reduce the prevalence of visual impairment? Increase the number of eye care clinicians, according to results of a study focusing on data from Medical Service Study Areas throughout California. Those counties with the fewest ophthalmologists and optometrists per 100,000 residents had the highest rates of visual impairment per 100,000 residents. Each 1/100,000 increase in the number of eye care clinicians led to a 3.9/100,000 decrease in residents with visual impairment. It is unclear as to whether these findings can be replicated in other states. JAMA Ophthalmology
Having tinnitus could leave a person vulnerable to developing glaucoma. Taiwanese researchers evaluated information from more than 2 million enrollees in the National Health Insurance Research Database in a matched case-control study to determine whether there are any links between tinnitus and primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG). When comparing patients with tinnitus and a control group (no tinnitus), the POAG prevalence rates were 4.7% and 3.7%, respectively. After adjusting for variables (e.g., age, sex, income level, comorbid conditions), patients with tinnitus were also 30% more likely to have had prior POAG than those who did not have tinnitus. Further studies are needed to understand the pathophysiologic mechanisms underlying these findings. Journal of Glaucoma
Diabetic eye complications are more prevalent in racial and ethnic minorities. The 2009–2018 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, a US representative survey that focused on healthcare costs and utilization, included 8080 adults with diabetes, 15.6% of whom had eye complications. Hispanic and Black patients had higher prevalence rates of self-reported eye complications than White patients (18.8% and 18.2% vs. 12.7%, respectively), but White patients were more likely to have annual dilated eye exams and to follow diabetes care recommendations from the American Diabetes Association. The authors conclude that “Given the disparities in diabetic eye complications among minorities, healthcare providers and policymakers should promote interventions and education programs accordingly to prevent and reduce the development of eye complications.” Diabetes Epidemiology and Management
Map of the RPE may aid in developing targeted retinal disease therapies. Researchers at the National Eye Institute (NEI) have developed a single-cell resolution map of the adult human retinal pigment epithelium (RPE), and through this map have identified 5 RPE subpopulations. These subpopulations, named P1 through P5, are each sensitive to various retinal diseases; for example, the lesions of patients with late-onset retinal degeneration were seen on the P2 and P3 subpopulations. Lead investigator Dr. Kapil Bharti, at NEI’s Ocular and Stem Cell Translational Research Section, commented, “The findings will help us develop more precise cell and gene therapies for specific degenerative eye diseases.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, National Institutes of Health