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Jeffrey Ryuta Willis, Pradeep Y Ramulu; Prevalence of Poor Vision among Individuals Hospitalized in the United States. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2014;55(13):2679.
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To assess the prevalence of poor vision in a nationally representative sample of recently-hospitalized adults, and to assess the sensitivity of subjective screening questions in identifying those with poor vision.
Cross-sectional study, utilizing data from the 2001-2008 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). Poor vision was defined as presenting visual acuity worse than 20/40. Individuals with post-refraction visual acuity of 20/40 or better were categorized as having uncorrected refractive error (URE). Those with post-refraction visual acuity worse than 20/40 were identified as having visual impairment (VI). Self-reported visual function was evaluated by asking about difficulty reading, conducting close-up work, and seeing steps. An individual was categorized as having difficulty in a particular task if they responded as having either moderate or extreme difficulty in conducting that task. Hospitalization data were obtained by asking participants if they were hospitalized over the past year.
A total of 1,729 participants (17%) age 50 and older reported a hospitalization over the past year and 1,349 (78%) had complete vision data. Among these hospitalized individuals, 9.8% had poor vision, including 6.0% with URE and 3.8% with visual impairment. Among hospitalized individuals with poor vision, 86% had a presenting visual acuity of 20/80 or better. Self-reported difficulty with reading, close up work, and seeing steps was present in 14%, 11%, and 13% of hospitalized individuals, respectively. Among individuals reporting difficulty in any of the visual function categories, 20% were found to have poor visual acuity.
About one-tenth of recently-hospitalized older Americans have poor vision, suggesting that many of these individuals may experience communication difficulties with items such as consent forms and discharge instructions. Given the importance of such documents in health outcomes, further research is necessary to assess whether those with poor vision may be at a health disadvantage compared to their better-seeing peers.
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