The Synergistic Impact of Late Life Vision Impairment and Genetic Risk on Cognitive Decline and Dementia

Joshua Ehrlich
Assistant Professor, Department of Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences, Medical School
Research Assistant Professor, Survey Research Center, Institute for Social Research



This pilot study will test the central hypothesis that vision impairments is a “second hit” that potentiates the risk of cognitive decline and dementia among those that carry the APOE ε4 allele. This hypothesis will be tested using data from the nationally-representative Health and Retirement Study and its sub-study, the Aging, Demographics and Memory Study.


  • National Eye Institute. R01EY034479 (09/30/23 - 06/30/28). Vision Impairment in the National Health and Aging Trends Study: Epidemiology, Social Determinants of Health, and Adverse Late Life Outcomes. Role: PI
  • Kolli A, Zhou Y, Chung G, Ware EB, Langa KM, Ehrlich JR. Interactions between the Apolipoprotein E4 Gene and Modifiable Risk Factors for Cognitive Impairment: A Nationally Representative Panel Study. BMC Geriatr. 2022. doi: 10.1186/s12877-022-03652-w.
  • Ehrlich JR, Kolli A, Zhou Y, Chung G, Ware E. The Joint Effects of Vision Impairment and Apolipoprotein E on the Hazard of Incident Cognitive Impairment. Scientific Poster. Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology Annual Meeting. Denver, CO, May 1-4, 2022.
  • Ehrlich JR, Swenor BK, Zhou Y, Langa KM. The Longitudinal Association of Vision Impairment With Transitions to Cognitive Impairment and Dementia: Findings From the Aging, Demographics and Memory Study. The journals of gerontology. Series A, Biological sciences and medical sciences. 2021 November 15;76(12):2187-2193. PubMed PMID: 34061956; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC8599065; DOI: 10.1093/gerona/glab157.