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Yaping Jin, Elizabeth Badley, Monique Gignac, Yvonne Buys, Kednapa Thavorn, Graham Trope; Reduced social participation among seniors with non refractive vision problems and glaucoma. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2013;54(15):3514.
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Lack of social integration is associated with increased risks of mortality and dementia. Using a population-based sample we assessed whether vision problems or glaucoma affect senior’s engagement in a wide range of social activities.
We compared participation in 8 community activities from the Canadian Community Health Survey Healthy Aging 2008/09 in people with and without non refractive vision problems (i.e. unable to see with eyeglasses or contact lenses) and those with and without glaucoma. Caucasian respondents aged 65 years or older (n=14,925) were included.
Participation in sports or physical activities was reduced by nearly half in seniors with vision problems (18.2%) versus those without vision problems (34.7%, p<0.05) and by 7% in those with glaucoma (27.9%) compared to non-glaucoma (34.7%, p<0.05). Participation in family or friendship activities outside the household was also significantly reduced by 12% to 41.4% for seniors with vision problems and by 6% to 47.4% for those with glaucoma. Significantly reduced participation was also seen in volunteer or charity activities (14.7% vs 26.0%), educational or cultural activities (14.9% vs 25.8%), and service club or fraternal organizations (12.3% vs 19.3%) for people with vision problems but not those with glaucoma. Participation in church or religious activities and in neighborhood or professional association activities was very similar in people with and without vision problems (p>0.05) and those with and without glaucoma (p>0.05). When the effects of age, sex, education, income and other chronic conditions were controlled for, seniors with vision problems but without glaucoma were three times more likely not to be involved in any activities (odds ratio (OR) 3.0, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.7-5.3), and seniors with both vision problem and glaucoma were two times more likely not to participate (OR 2.1, 95% CI 0.7-5.8) compared to seniors with no vision problems and no glaucoma.
Significant reduction in social participation was found in 6 out of 8 community activities among seniors with vision problems and in 2 out of 8 activities among those with glaucoma. Future research is needed to determine if better social support (like that provided by religious or community groups) can help seniors with vision problems or glaucoma maintain their social participation.
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