Vision Impairment Tied to Lower Use of Preventive Services

MONDAY, Nov. 2, 2020 — Older Americans with vision impairment may be less likely to use cancer-related preventive services versus individuals without vision impairment, according to a study published online Oct. 29 in JAMA Ophthalmology.

Lama Assi, M.D., from the Wilmer Eye Institute at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, and colleagues examined the association between self-reported vision impairment and uptake of preventive care services (e.g., breast and colon cancer screenings and influenza and pneumococcal vaccinations) in adults ages 50 years and older. The authors extracted data from the 2015 and 2018 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) and 2016 and 2018 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS).

The researchers found that among NHIS participants, compared with older participants without vision impairment, older individuals with vision impairment (between 14.3 and 16.3 percent) were less likely to report breast cancer screening (odds ratio [OR], 0.82; 95 percent confidence interval [CI], 0.71 to 0.96) and colon cancer screening (OR, 0.89; 95 percent CI, 0.79 to 0.99), but not influenza (OR, 1.06; 95 percent CI, 0.97 to 1.15) and pneumococcal vaccination (OR, 1.03; 95 percent CI, 0.91 to 1.16). Among BRFSS participants, those with vision impairment (5.9 to 6.8 percent) were less likely than those without vision impairment to report breast cancer screening (OR, 0.67; 95 percent CI, 0.59 to 0.75), colon cancer screening (OR, 0.70; 95 percent CI, 0.65 to 0.76), and pneumococcal vaccination (OR, 0.89; 95 percent CI, 0.81 to 0.99), but not influenza vaccination (OR, 0.95; 95 percent CI, 0.89 to 1.00).

“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,” the authors write.

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