Many Seniors Are Visually Impaired, Even with Glasses



American adults over 40 are at a greater risk for developing eye disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 6.5 million people in this age group are visually impaired and one million are blind.

Lower income, less education linked to vision impairment

Recent research finds that 28 percent of adults over 71 are visually impaired, even with the help of corrective lenses or visual aids.

The study was published in JAMA Ophthalmology and was led by Olivia J. Killeen, MD, a clinical lecturer in the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences at Michigan Medicine.

One of the main findings was that various types of visual impairment that are linked to older age are more prevalent in those with lower income and less education. Non-Hispanic Black and Hispanic adults were likelier to have visual acuity and contrast sensitivity impairments than non-Hispanic White adults.

Many participants in the study needed an updated eyeglass prescription to treat their visual impairment, but some faced financial barriers. For example, many seniors have to pay out of pocket for glasses because Medicare only provides eyeglass benefits after cataract surgery.

“These findings are important to address, as poor vision is associated with several adverse outcomes for older adults, including depression, dementia, falls, motor vehicle accidents, and even death,” said Dr. Killeen.

Comprehensive eye exams prevent vision loss

Regular comprehensive eye exams with dilation can help detect vision problems and preserve your eyesight as you age. Yearly eye exams can help prevent or delay eye diseases like cataracts, glaucoma or macular degeneration that can impair vision. If your ophthalmologist diagnoses a vision problem in the early stages, it is much easier and less expensive to treat.

Chronic conditions like heart disease, diabetes and arthritis are more common among seniors with vision impairment, so you must also visit your general practitioner regularly. Having diabetes can put you at risk for developing diabetic retinopathy, the most common vision impairment of people over 40.

Has it been over a year since your last eye exam? Eye conditions can develop slowly, so you cannot rely on symptoms or warning signs. If you are looking for a board-certified ophthalmologist, our eye care centers are located nationwide. Call today to make an appointment.