Clear Vision Means Independence and Longer Life in Older Adults

Regular, comprehensive eye exams could lengthen your life. Yes, it seems that older people with clear vision live longer. Why is this? Research points to the fact that good vision is necessary for living independently, shopping and managing finances. More than illness, race, gender, depression, smoking and alcohol, quality of vision seems to be the key to longer life.

Sharon Christ, an assistant professor of human development and family studies at Purdue University, and a team of researchers analyzed data from the Salisbury Eye Evaluation in Salisbury, Maryland. The subjects were people aged 65 to 84, and the evaluation tracked their vision and health. Visual problems or vision loss did not necessarily mean an early death. Rather, vision loss made it less likely that the subjects would do their housework, manage tasks and pay their bills.

“An individual who’s remaining relatively stable in their visual acuity in their older years is not seeing this subsequent difficulty in functionality," said Christ. However, people whose visual acuity deteriorated at a rate of one letter on an eye chart each year had a 16 percent increase in mortality over eight years.

Christ says that the solution is quite simple. Reducing the increased mortality risk might be as easy as getting a comprehensive eye exam and ordering new lenses for your eyeglasses. Getting the correct prescription will help you perform best in everyday tasks.

For some older people who have macular degeneration or eye conditions that cannot be corrected, it is important that they have help to get daily tasks completed. Staying physically active will also help prevent visual decline as well (Source: NPR).