Vision impairment among older adults residing in subsidized housing communities

Academic Article


  • Purpose of the Study: To examine the rate of vision impairment and the relationship between vision impairment, cognitive impairment, and chronic comorbid conditions in residents of federally subsidized senior housing facilities. Design: Cross-sectional, observational study. Methods: Vision screening events were held at 14 subsidized senior housing facilities in Jefferson County, Alabama for residents aged 60 years and older. Visual function (distance vision, near vision, and contrast sensitivity) measured with habitual correction if worn, cognitive status, and chronic comorbid conditions (hypertension, heart problems, circulation problems, and diabetes) were assessed. Results: A total of 238 residents participated in the vision screenings. Most residents (75%) were African American. Vision impairment was common, with 40% of participants failing the distance acuity screening and 58% failing the near acuity screening; failure was defined as vision worse than 20/40 in either eye. Additionally, 65% failed the contrast sensitivity screening. A total of 30.6% of seniors had cognitive impairment. Regarding comorbid chronic conditions, 31% had circulation problems, 39% had diabetes, 41% had heart problems, and 76% had hypertension (59% had 2 or more of these). Visual acuity differed significantly between cognitive status groups and with the presence of heart and circulation problems. Implications: This study is among the first to provide information about vision impairment in this socioeconomically disadvantaged group of older adults. Vision impairment was common. Cognitive impairment and comorbid chronic conditions accounted for a small to moderate percentage of the variance in distance vision, near vision, and contrast sensitivity. Future studies should focus on strategies to facilitate access to eye care in this vulnerable population.
  • Published In

  • Gerontologist  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Pubmed Id

  • 24816751
  • Author List

  • Elliott AF; Mcgwin G; Kline LB; Owsley C
  • Start Page

  • S108
  • End Page

  • S117
  • Volume

  • 55