Association of Vision Impairment with Preventive Care Use among Older Adults in the United States

Lama Assi, Varshini Varadaraj, Ahmed F. Shakarchi, Orla C. Sheehan, Nicholas S. Reed, Joshua R. Ehrlich, Bonnielin K. Swenor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Importance: Preventive care is associated with decreased morbidity and mortality among older adults. Vision impairment may be a barrier to accessing care and health promotion information and therefore may contribute to decreased preventive care uptake. Objective: To examine the association between self-reported vision impairment and uptake of preventive care services (ie, breast and colon cancer screenings and influenza and pneumococcal vaccinations). Design, Setting, and Participants: Cross-sectional study using the 2015 and 2018 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) and 2016 and 2018 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) data, national surveys of US residents conducted through in-person household interviews in NHIS, and state-based telephone interviews in BRFSS. Participants included respondents 50 years and older based on eligibility for each preventive care service examined. Exposures: Vision impairment, defined as self-reported trouble seeing, in NHIS, and self-reported blindness/serious difficulty seeing in BRFSS. Main Outcomes and Measures: Self-reported uptake of breast cancer screening (women aged 50-74 years), colon cancer screening (aged 50-74 years), influenza vaccination (50 years and older), and pneumococcal vaccination (65 years and older). Multivariable regression models adjusted for relevant confounders, including age, were used to examine the uptake of each preventive care service by vision impairment status. Results: Among NHIS participants, older US individuals with vision impairment (prevalence between 14.3% and 16.3% in the different age groups; n = 12120-29654) were less likely to report breast cancer screening (odds ratio [OR], 0.82; 95% CI, 0.71-0.96) and colon cancer screening (OR, 0.89; 95% CI, 0.79-0.99) but not influenza (OR, 1.06; 95% CI, 0.97-1.15) and pneumococcal vaccination (OR, 1.03; 95% CI, 0.91-1.16), as compared with their counterparts without vision impairment. In BRFSS (n = 228649-530027), those with vision impairment (5.9%-6.8%) were less likely than those without vision impairment to report breast cancer screening (OR, 0.67; 95% CI, 0.59-0.75), colon cancer screening (OR, 0.70; 95% CI, 0.65-0.76), and pneumococcal vaccination (OR, 0.89; 95% CI, 0.81-0.99) but not influenza vaccination (OR, 0.95; 95% CI, 0.89-1.00). Conclusions and Relevance: Older Americans with vision impairment may be less likely to use cancer-related preventive services as compared with their counterparts without vision impairments. These findings suggest that interventions to improve access to health information and health care services for individuals with vision impairment may be needed to improve cancer screening among this population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1298-1306
Number of pages9
JournalJAMA ophthalmology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology


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