Prevent Blindness Emphasizes Importance of Sight Care for Older Adults With Cognitive Decline

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Intervention (CDC), “Vision impairment often co-occurs with cognitive decline, which can be associated with functional limitations”. Data from Analysis of 2015–2017 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System determined that, “after adjusting for age and other demographic and smoking characteristics, 18% of adults who reported vision impairment also reported functional limitations [i.e. self-care, handling finances, etc.] related to subjective cognitive decline, compared with only 4% of those without vision impairment”.

The study authors wrote that the implication to public health care practice is “that prevention or correction of vision impairment might be important in reducing functional limitations related to cognitive decline in adults aged ≥45 years”. 

On July 17, Prevent Blindness hosted a panel discussion focusing on the growing interest in the effects of vision loss and cognitive decline in older adults. The panel was part of the organization’s “2019 Focus On Eye Health National Summit: A Lifetime of Vision”, held at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.  The panel, moderated by Heather Whitson, MD, MHS (Duke University), featured three speakers: Bonnielin Swenor, PhD, MPH (Wilmer Eye Institute, Johns Hopkins University), Joshua R. Ehrlich, MD, MPH (University of Michigan, Kellogg Eye Center), and Marcus Escobedo, MPA (John A. Hartford Foundation).