In this population-based study of 509 open-angle glaucoma (OAG) patients over a 36-year period, we identified a decreased rate of developing dementia compared with the rate in the general population.
The aim was to determine the incidence of dementia and Alzheimer disease (AD) among patients with OAG.
Patients and Methods:
Retrospective, population-based cohort study. All residents of Olmsted County, Minnesota (≥40 y) who were diagnosed with OAG between January 1, 1965 and December 31, 2000, were eligible for inclusion in this study. A total of 509 patients were included over the 36-year period. The cumulative probability of developing dementia was calculated and compared with the population risk of dementia.
Of the 509 patients included, 300 (58.9%) were female, the median age was 67.5 years, and 278 patients (54.6%) had primary OAG. Other subgroups were pseudoexfoliation in 15.1%, treated ocular hypertension in 14.1%, normal tension glaucoma in 10.6%, and pigmentary glaucoma in 5.5% of the patients. Respectively, 118 (23.0%) and 99 (19.4%) patients developed dementia and AD. The 10-year cumulative probability of developing dementia and AD was 12.0% and 9.9%, with a 95% confidence interval of 9.3%-15.3% and 7.5%-13%, respectively. The observed 10-year incidence of dementia and AD were significantly lower than the expected population incidence (19.0% and 19.0%; P<0.001). Older age at diagnosis of glaucoma was a strong predictor for the development of dementia by multivariate analysis (hazard ratio: 3.31, 95% confidence interval: 2.61-4.20, P<0.001).
The risk of developing dementia or AD was decreased in OAG patients compared with the general population. OAG with onset at a later age may present as a different etiopathogenetic entity compared with onset at a younger age, and represent the optic nerve findings of generalized neurodegenerative processes.