• Can my retinal thinning be a sign of cognitive decline?


    Question:

    I’m 67 and have had open-angle glaucoma since my late 30s. I was recently told that my retinas are abnormally thin for my age. Should I worry about the correlation between cognitive decline and retinal thinning?


    Answer:

    Retinal thinning can mean many things. If the thinning is in the peripheral retina, it can be from a condition called lattice degeneration, which is associated with an increased risk of retinal tears and retinal detachment. Central retinal thinning can be associated with a number of conditions including myopia, glaucoma, and age-related macular degeneration.

    There have been two recent studies that have suggested a correlation between thinning of one of the retinal layers (the retinal nerve fiber layer) with lower performance on cognitive testing. However, the percent of patients who went on to develop cognitive decline was very small and this finding has not been recommended as a screening test for dementia.


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