Does Vision Loss Dim Lifespan?

August 29, 2014
Adaptations for vision loss can improve independence

Adaptations for vision loss can improve independence

There is no doubt that vision loss can limit an independent lifestyle.  However, a recent study reveals that vision impairment may be associated with an increase in a person’s risk of death.

The study followed approximately 2,500 participants, 65 to 84 years old, who were tracked at designated intervals during the eight-year period.  Researchers led by Sharon Christ, PhD, of Purdue University reported that vision loss over time was associated with an increase in the person’s risk of death during the study period.

Possible cause and effect relationships were provided by the researchers.  The researchers believe that the sight-related decline in a person’s ability to perform certain activities such as meal preparation, errands, daily housework, or using the telephone could be attributed to the study’s outcome.

The risk of death among people who had difficulty with basic daily tasks rose by 3 percent a year over the study period, so that it was 31 percent higher by the end of the eight-year study.

The study summarized that several steps can be taken by the health care community to ensure a better quality of life for those with limited vision, such as:

  1. Preventing vision loss through proper and timely screening.

  2. Treating correctable vision impairments.

  3. Providing assistance in the completion of activities of daily living for those with vision impairment.

The Purdue research group believes that assisting seniors with the completion of everyday tasks may have an impact on maintaining a longer life.

We believe that this study information provides valuable insight by reminding family caregivers to:

  1. Help ensure that their loved one’s basic activities of daily living are achieved through proper assistance.

  2. Assist with loved ones with modifications in a home that will ensure as much independence as possible.

  3. Continuously evaluate the home and surroundings for ongoing adaptations and modifications as vision impairment declines.

Vision impairments and other age-related conditions can have an impact on quality of life for aging parents and other older adults.  However, caregivers can help minimize this impact by ensuring that basic needs are met in a safe and secure environment.

Source:  JAMA Ophthalmology. Published online August 21, 2014.


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