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The Prevalence and Consequences of Vision Impairment in Later Life

Horowitz, Amy DSW


This article reviews the research literature regarding the prevalence and consequences of age-related vision impairment. Prevalence estimates vary depending upon whether vision impairment is based on self-report data or clinical assessments, and range from approximately 4% to 20% of adults aged 65 and older. Differences in estimates are discussed in terms of the different information they provide. Recent research highlights that vision impairment in later life can have profound consequences for the physical functioning, psychological well-being, and health service needs of older adults. Vision rehabilitation services that can address such consequences are described, and there is growing evidence on their effectiveness in combating excess disability and enhancing psychological well-being among older adults.

Arlene R. Gordon Research Institute, Lighthouse International, New York, NY.

Corresponding author: Amy Horowitz, DSW, Arlene R. Gorden Research Institute, Lighthouse International, 111 E 59th St New York, NY 10022 (e-mail:

A section of this article has previously appeared in Generations, Volume 27, Issue No. 1, pp. 32–38 (2003).

The author acknowledges her research collaborators, Joann P. Reinhardt, PhD, and Mark Brennan, PhD, for their prior contributions to research reviews upon which this article is based; and Thalia MacMillan, MSW, for her assistance in preparing the article.

© 2004 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.