NACDD partners at the CDC Vision Health Initiative recently conducted a study exploring the prevalence of chronic conditions among persons aged 65 years and older in the United States with and without vision impairment. Using data from the National Health Interview Survey, they examined 13 chronic conditions while controlling for factors such as age, race, education, smoking status, physical activity, and obesity. The researchers found that people with vision impairment were more likely than those without vision impairment to report having hypertension, heart disease, high cholesterol, stroke, arthritis, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cancer, weak or failing kidneys, diabetes, hepatitis, depression, or hearing impairment. In addition, older adults with chronic conditions were nearly three times as likely to report having fair or poor health as compared to older adults without vision impairment.
These results suggest that the topic of vision impairment and chronic conditions merits further attention to understand the disparity and magnitude of the problems, the pathways that prompt disparities, and potential strategies to improve overall health among those who experience both vision impairment and chronic conditions. NACDD is currently supporting three states (Alabama, Nebraska, and Ohio) to better understand the impact of vision impairment and to identify effective strategies for improving the lives of those with vision impairment.