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Walter Wittich, Anni Hämäläinen, Margaret Kathy Pichora-Fuller, Natalie Phillips, Lebo Kolisang, Dawn Guthrie, Paul Mick; Prevalence and severity of dual sensory loss (vision & hearing) in the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2018;59(9):1068.
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Age-related dual sensory loss (DSL; concurring vision and hearing impairment) has more adverse consequences for healthy aging outcomes than vision loss alone. The prevalence and severity of DSL in the general population remain poorly understood, hampering timely screening and treatment. We quantified age-related prevalence, severity, and risk factors of DSL and limitations to aid uptake by participants with sensory loss to inform future prevention, screening, and treatment of DSL.
We characterized vision and hearing loss and DSL severity, risk factors, and self-reported visual and hearing aid use in nearly 30,000 people aged 45-85 years, who participated in the comprehensive Canadian Longitudinal Study of Aging. Baseline visual acuity was measured using a standard ETDRS chart, hearing was measured via digital audiometry, and information on demographic, socio-economic, and health risk factors were obtained via in-person interviews.
This basically healthy population presented with relatively common but mostly mild vision loss (34% with logMAR > 0.2, wearing glasses), and an additional 14% also had some level of hearing impairment, i.e. DSL. Moderate to severe DSL was rare overall, but increased with age to 4% prevalence in the 80-85 age group. The strongest predictors of severe DSL were older age, being male, smoking, and a diagnosed diabetes. Higher income and education levels may attenuate DSL risk. Approximately 20% of those with DSL used vision/heading aids other than prescription glasses, the severity of sensory loss and income being the strongest predictors of aid uptake.
Our results are in line with previous, smaller scale population studies of DSL prevalence, and provide additional information on the age-specific severity of the condition. This study serves as the baseline for the cohort study designed to follow longitudinal change in the health of the aging Canadian population.
This is an abstract that was submitted for the 2018 ARVO Annual Meeting, held in Honolulu, Hawaii, April 29 - May 3, 2018.
Scatter plot of hearing ability (mean pure tone decibel hearing loss) as a function of vision ability (corrected logMAR distance acuity in the better eye) for 30,000 Canadians age 45-85
Distribution of participants in the Canadian Longitudinal Study on aging (n = 29,263), according to their sensory status, across ages in 5-year groupings.
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