December 2002
Volume 43, Issue 13
ARVO Annual Meeting Abstract  |   December 2002
The Relationship Between Visual Impairment and Functional Limitations in the U.S. Elderly Population
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • SP Lustig
    Outcomes Research Dept 5H010 Pfizer Global Research Groton CT
  • Y-CT Shih
    MEDTAP International Inc Bethesda MD
  • Footnotes
    Commercial Relationships    S.P. Lustig, Pfizer Inc. E; Y.T. Shih, Pfizer Inc. F.
Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science December 2002, Vol.43, 3844. doi:
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      SP Lustig, Y-CT Shih; The Relationship Between Visual Impairment and Functional Limitations in the U.S. Elderly Population . Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2002;43(13):3844.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Abstract: : Purpose: To examine the association between visual impairment (VI) and functional limitations among the elderly. Methods: Bivariate analyses were used to examine the above associations. Data used in the analysis was the Second Supplement on Aging (SOA II), a nationally representative sample of the U.S. population aged 70 and over in 1994. These cohort data of older Americans, collected by the National Center of Health Statistics, are the most recently released. Visual impairment (VI) identified from the data was categorized into five forms: cataract, glaucoma, blindness in one eye, blindness in both eyes, and trouble seeing even with glasses. Functional limitations were characterized by activities of daily living (ADLs), instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs), and self-perceived health status. Results: Visual impairment was found in 37.5% of persons aged 70 and over. When stratified by age, the proportion of visually impaired elderly increased from 31% in the «under 75» age group to 52.2% in the «85 and over» age group. Of the 70 and older group, 10% reported having more than one form of VI; «cataract» and «trouble seeing with glasses», alone or combined, accounted for approximately 68% of VI. On average, the visually impaired group reported a significantly higher number of limitations in ADLs and IADLs (1.13 and 1.28, respectively) than the visually unimpaired (0.59 and 0.65, respectively). A significantly higher proportion of the visually impaired ranked their health status as poor (10.7% vs. 5.1%) and a significantly lower proportion reported «excellent» (9.4% vs. 14.8%). Among the five forms of VI, the average number of limitations in ADLs and IADLs were highest among persons with blindness in both eyes (2.36 and 3.67, respectively), and were lowest in the glaucoma group (0.86 and 0.89, respectively). The average number of limitations in ADLs and IADLs were not significantly different between those with blindness in one eye (1.50 and 1.56) and those with difficulty seeing even with glasses (1.48 and 1.69).Conclusion: A positive and tangible association existed between visual impairment and more limited physical functioning as measured by ADLs and IADLs, and poorer self-perceived health. Among the five forms of visual problems examined, more detrimental outcomes were found in persons with blindness in both eyes.

Keywords: 353 clinical (human) or epidemiologic studies: outcomes/complications • 625 visual impairment: neuro-ophthalmological disease • 309 aging 

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