Scientists find many older people lack clear eyesight, even with glasses

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In a study from Michigan Medicine, scientists found that 28% of people over the age of 71 have a visual impairment, even while wearing their regular glasses, contact lenses, or other visual aids.

These findings are important to address, as poor vision is associated with several adverse outcomes for older adults, including depression, dementia, falls, motor vehicle accidents, and even death

The researchers found that different types of visual impairment are associated with older age as well as with less education and lower income.

Both near visual acuity and contrast sensitivity impairments were greater among non-Hispanic Black and Hispanic individuals, compared to non-Hispanic white individuals.

Additionally, lower education and income were associated with all types of visual impairment.

Previous studies have found that the cost of caring for older adults with vision impairment and blindness in the U.S. is high—as of 2017, it was $134.2 billion annually.

Many older adults simply need to be updated eyeglasses to treat their visual impairment, yet many adults with visual impairment will face financial barriers to care.

For example, traditional Medicare, a main insurer of older adults in the United States, only provides eyeglass benefits following cataract surgery, leaving many adults to pay out-of-pocket for their visual aids.

The team says said this type of research can help improve public health outcomes when it comes to supporting adults with visual impairment.

The up-to-date data presented in this study are vital for informing surveillance of vision health in the U.S. and may enable public health programs to target those at the highest risk of poor vision.

If you care about eye health, please read studies that diabetes and high blood pressure can predict blinding eye disease, and 7 habits that help prevent vision loss in older people.

For more information about eye health, please see recent studies about how to protect your eyes from diabetes, and results showing that vitamin B3 may help treat common blinding eye disease.

The study was conducted by Olivia J. Killeen et al and published in JAMA Ophthalmology.

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