Cognitive function associated with larger optic nerve heads

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Abstract

Purpose

To assess associations between optic nerve head size and parameters of cognitive function in a population-based study design.

Methods

The Beijing Eye Study is a population-based cohort study in Northern China and included 4442 subjects. The study participants underwent a detailed ophthalmologic examination and an interview with questions on the level of education. Using fundus photographs, we measured the size of the optic disc.

Results

Assessable optic disc photographs were available for 4089 (92.1%) subjects. After adjusting for age, gender, refractive error, and best corrected visual acuity, optic disc size was significantly associated with a higher level of education (P<0.001) and shorter time needed to perform frequency doubling threshold perimetry (P<0.001). In a reverse manner, the level of education was significantly associated with increasing optic disc size (P<0.001) and shorter perimetric test duration (P<0.001) after adjustment for age, gender and best corrected visual acuity.

Conclusion

In a population-based study on adult Chinese, optic nerve head size was associated with the highest achieved level of education and time needed to perform a standardized perimetric test. Considering level of education and time needed to perform perimetry as surrogates of cognitive function, optic nerve head size was related to cognitive function.

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