Visual Loss and Subsequent Activity Limitations in the Elderly: The French Three-City Cohort

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To investigate the relationship between vision and disability in the elderly.


We used a baseline visual indicator (combining near acuity with Snellen equivalent < 20/30 and self-reported distance visual loss) to explore the association between visual loss and subsequent disability (mobility, instrumental activities of daily living [IADLs], ADLs, and participation restriction) from 1999 to 2007 in 8491 elderly participants of the French Three-City Cohort (Bordeaux, Dijon, and Montpellier).


In multiadjusted analyses, near visual impairment, alone or associated with distance visual function loss, was associated with greater risk of developing ADL limitations (P = .027), IADL limitations (P = .002), and participation restriction (P < .001), but not mobility (P = .848). The disabling impact of visual loss was significant for 11 of the 15 activities, when analyzed one by one.


Both near and distance visual loss was associated with greater functional decline over time, and the combination of the two could be even worse.

Public Health Implications

In the context of rapid aging of the population, maintaining good vision in the elderly represents a promising prevention track, visual impairment being common in the elderly, largely undermanaged, and mostly reversible. Further research, especially trials, is necessary to estimate the public health impact of such interventions.

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