Memory problems, particularly remembering recent events, are usually the earliest sign to alert to dementia.
However, an ophthalmologist has shared that your eyes could hold clues even before memory problems become evident.
Dr Jørn Slot Jørgensen, leading ophthalmologist at Laser Eye Clinic London, told Express.co.uk: “Some people think that visiting an ophthalmologist is only necessary if you have an eye condition or need vision correction.
“However, this is a widespread misconception that also applies to medical situations in general.
“In fact, an ophthalmologist might be the first physician to diagnose a medical condition because the initial signs may appear in the eye.”
Research suggests that vision problems may be one of the “first” signs of dementia.
For example, a study from the UCSF Weill Institute for Neurosciences found that retinal scans can detect key changes in blood vessels that may provide an early sign of Alzheimer’s disease.
According to Dr Jørgensen, the following symptoms could ring alarm bells early:
- Changes in vision: Individuals with dementia may experience difficulty with visual perception, including trouble judging distances or identifying colours and contrasts
- Difficulty reading or writing: Dementia can lead to problems with reading comprehension, writing coherently, or understanding symbols and numbers
- Visual hallucinations: Some people with dementia may experience visual hallucinations (seeing things that are not present)
- Impaired visual memory: Recalling faces, places, or objects may become challenging for individuals with dementia.
While vision changes could be the first warning signs, they don’t always appear first.
The doctor shared that the onset of these symptoms can vary from person to person.
He said: “In some cases, these signs may be subtle and may not be immediately recognisable.
“However, in other cases, they may become noticeable enough to prompt further investigation.”
Once you start experiencing any changes or problems with your vision, it’s important to seek medical help.
“If you notice any warning signs in the eyes, it’s crucial to take immediate action and speak to your GP,” Dr Jørgensen said.
Regular visits to your optician are just as important, as the expert could detect potentially harmful changes before symptoms even appear.
Furthermore, regular eye tests might help reduce your risk of the mind-robbing condition, Dr Allon Barsam, consultant surgeon and founding partner at OCL Vision previously told Express.co.uk.