The impact of poor vision on disability among the elderly (age 65 and older) is substantially reduced or eliminated when other health factors are taken into account, according to a new study.
Researchers found that when vision impairment did predict disability, it usually centered on doing highly visual activities at home, such as reading or watching television.
Greater proportions of persons reporting poor vision had problems with dressing, getting in and out of bed, and doing household chores compared to those with good vision.
Nearly a third of those with poor vision (30.8%) reported being unable to attend social events. However, when other health conditions and variables were controlled in models, the effects of poor vision in reporting greater disability were reduced across all daily activities investigated.
In fact, the effect of poor vision was completely eliminated for getting in and out of bed. The researchers do note, however, those with poor vision are more than twice as likely as those with good or better vision to move into the next level of disability when it comes to going to social events and managing money. Performing leisure activities at home is also significantly affected by poor vision.
These individuals are five times more likely to have greater disability. According to the researchers, vision rehabilitation interventions need to address multiple health dimensions, improve access to services, and establish connections with other agencies that serve the elderly.
For more info see Steinman and Allen. (2012). Self-reported vision impairment and its contribution to disability among older adults. Journal of Aging and Health 24(2), 307-322.