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Gina M. Mitzel, Cynthia M. Cready, Dianna K. Wheaton, Yi-Zhong Wang; The Influence of Age and Race/Ethnicity on Visual Health in a Senior Population. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2011;52(14):4223.
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This study examined the influence of age and race/ethnicity on seniors’ self-report of visual health and visual function measurements in a community outreach-screening program.
Subjects (>= 55 years, 108 Caucasian, 66 African American, and 79 Hispanic) were recruited for the study from local communities and senior centers in North Texas. All participants completed a self-report questionnaire designed to examine the effects of genetic, socioeconomic status (SES), and lifestyle factors on visual health. The participants' responses to a questionnaire item about having cataracts, age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, and/or diabetic retinopathy were cross classified with the functional measurements of Snellen visual acuity and shape discrimination sensitivity (Wang et al., Opt. & Vis. Sci., 2009). Shape discrimination scores outside of normal 95% upper limit were considered abnormal. Most participants (85%) wore their correction for near or far vision (glasses or contact lens) during testing. Scores for the participant's best eye were used. Odds ratios from logistic regression were used to determine the influence of age and race/ethnicity on having an abnormal test score in the absence of self-reported eye disease.
Among 211 participants who had visual acuity and shape discrimination measurements, 71 reported a cataract and/or retinal disease diagnosis (Group 1), while 140 reported no eye disease diagnosis (Group 2). 44% in Group 1 had visual acuity 20/40 (0.3 logMAR) or worse, while 26% in Group 2 had visual acuity 20/40 or worse (p≤0.05). In comparison, 62% in Group 1 showed a deficit in shape discrimination score compared to 50% in Group 2, this difference was not significantly different (p=0.1). The odds of having an abnormal score on the visual acuity or shape discrimination test but reporting no problem with one’s vision was higher among older (1.076, p≤0.01 and 1.100, p ≤ 0.001, respectively) and African American and Hispanic (compared to Caucasian) seniors (1.838, p>0.1, 2.443, p>0.1 and 2.839, p≤0.05, 2.659, p ≤0.05, respectively).
These results suggest a need to educate and raise awareness of eye disorders among the senior population, especially the most mature and racial and ethnic minorities, to promote prevention, early diagnosis, and prompt treatment. The results also demonstrate that the shape discrimination test may reveal a vision problem that participants were not aware of or was not indicated by the visual acuity test.
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