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Vision Loss and Comorbid Conditions


A CDC study (Crews, Jones, & Kim, 2006) revealed that older people who report vision loss are more likely to experience comorbid conditions than people without vision loss. Moreover, these combinations of conditions among older people have serious consequences for overall health, ability to perform tasks, and to participate in social roles. This study estimated a total population of people older than age of 65 experience vision loss to be 5.7 million people.

The number of older people experiencing vision loss and other comorbid conditions is substantial: 1.2 million experience both vision loss and diabetes; 3 million have compromised hearing and vision; 3 million report vision loss and mild/moderate risk of depression; 350,000 report severe risk of depression; and nearly 900,000 report stroke and vision loss. The population estimates are for older people residing in the community and not institutional settings. The combination of vision impairment and other health conditions substantially compromises the performance of activities and social participation (Crews, Jones, & Kim, 2006).

Chronic Conditions Among Older Adults with and without Vision Loss



Vision Impairment +
Comorbid Condition
Chronic Conditions for all age 65+
ConditionEstimated Population*%Estimated Population*%
Depression
Mild/Moderate3,260,00057.214,359,00043.7
Severe351,0006.28,323,0002.5
No Risk2,087,00036.617,824,00054.0
Diabetes1,243,00022.34,928,00015.2
Hearing Impairment3,033,00052.312,850,00038.9
Heart Problems2,146,00042.910,247,00031.0
Hypertension3,468,00061.017,555,00053.3
Joint Symptoms3,563,00069.115,936,00055.7
Stroke879,00015.52,808,0008.5
*Rounded to nearest 1000. Adapted from Crews, Jones, & Kim, 2007

In addition to chronic conditions being more common among older people with vision loss, a variety of studies indicate that older people with vision loss have greater risk of falls and fear of falling (Freeman, Muñoz, Rubin, & West, 2007), cognitive decline (Lin, Gutierrez, Stone, Yaffe, Ensrud, Fink, Sarkisian, Coleman, & Mangione, 2004), and greater risk of premature death (Freeman, Egleston, West, Bandeen—Roche, & Rubin) than people without vision loss.

References:

Crews JE, Jones GC, Kim JH. Double jeopardy: the effects of comorbid conditions among older people with vision loss. Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness. 2006:100; 824–848.

Freeman EE, Muñoz B, Rubin G, West SK. Visual Field Loss Increases the Risk of Falls in Older Adults: The Salisbury Eye Evaluation. Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science. 2007:48;4445–4450. Abstract

Freeman EE, Egleston BL, West SK, Bandeen-Roche K, Rubin G. Visual Acuity Change and Mortality in Older Adults. Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science. 2005:46:11;4040–4045.

Lin MY, Gutierrez PR, Stone KL, Yaffe K, Ensurd KE, Fink HA, Sarisian CA, Coleman AL, Mangione CM. [Study of Osteoporotic Fractures Research Group]. (). Vision impairment and combined vision and hearing impairment predict cognitive and functional decline in older women. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. 2004:52;1996–2002.


 
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