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Clues to visual variant Alzheimer's; myopia and diabetic retinopathy risk
Date:10/25/2009

VVAD patients differ from typical Alzheimer's patients in a number of ways. At the time they report visual problems, many are younger than those for whom memory loss is the tell-tale sign. In Dr. Kaeser's study the median patient age was 65, and only 3 of 10 reported memory loss. In comprehensive neuro-ophthalmic exams even though most patients' visual acuity was adequate, all but one had difficulty with reading, 8 of 10 with writing, and 6 of 10 with basic calculations. The visual field was altered in 8 of 10 patients. All had trouble identifying colored numbers despite being able to name colors correctly, and, importantly, 8 of 10 patients had difficulty recognizing and interpreting components of a complex image (simultagnosia). This is an early indicator of the brain damage that prevents later-stage Alzheimer's patients from recognizing people they know and navigating familiar surroundings. MRI and PET scans revealed neurological changes consistent with VVAD in all study patients. Though VVAD patients' first symptoms are visual, Alzheimer's memory and personality impairments eventually occur in most

"Ophthalmologists should be aware of the possibility of VVAD in patients with unexplained vision problems, particularly difficulty with reading," said Dr. Kaeser. "Suspect VVAD when patient tests well for visual acuity but has vision complaints that are unusual or severe for late middle age. Refer him for neurological evaluation."

Does Nearsightedness Reduce the Risk of Diabetic Retinopathy?

To learn more about factors that may reduce diabetic retinopathy (DR) risk, Laurence Shen Lim, MRCS, and colleagues at the Singapore National Eye Centre, studied how refractive error (vision worse than 20/20, without glasses) relates to the presence and severity of DR. Earlier, smaller studies had suggested a protective effect for nearsightedness (myopia), but were inconclusive. Dr. Lim's study is the first to include axial length (AL, meas
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Contact: Mary Wade
mwade@aao.org
510-725-5677
American Academy of Ophthalmology
Source:Eurekalert

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