CLEVELANDA multi-institutional team of researchers, led by the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences at Case Western Reserve University, will begin a five-year, $2.9 million National Institutes of Health-funded study. They will examine the lives of patients with both cataracts and Alzheimer's disease (AD) to document how restored vision improves everyday life for people with dementia.
"This project addresses a major social justice issue in the disparity in vision care of persons diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease," said Grover "Cleve" Gilmore, dean of the Case Western Reserve Mandel School and principal investigator of the study.
Gilmore will lead faculty from the departments of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences and Neurology at the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and physicians from the Eye Institute and Neurological Institute at University Hospitals and the Division of Ophthalmology at MetroHealth Medical Center.
In 20 years of research, Gilmore has found people with dementia lose their ability to see objects in medium- and low-contrast environments, but boosting the contrast of objects improves their ability to move around their homes; eat better; read; and do other simple, everyday tasks.
Cataracts cloud and blur the vision in the eye causing AD patients additional problems. If untreated, the cataracts lead to blindness, but sight can be restored with surgery to remove the cataract.
Co-investigator Jonathan Lass, M.D., the Charles I Thomas Professor and chair of the department of ophthalmology and visual sciences at the Case Western Reserve School of Medicine and director of the Eye Institute at University Hospitals, says, surprisingly, a preliminary study has shown 10 percent of patients over 65 who have an eye exam have some memory impairment along with cataracts. Most people start to show signs of cataracts in their early 60s.
"This research is important because we are a v
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Case Western Reserve University