German researchers followed nearly 2400 people aged between 77 and 101 for a decade, tracking their vision, wider health, intellectual functioning, hobbies and physical and social activities. Study participants were interviewed every 18 months, according to the paper published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.
The scientists found that the onset of severe visual impairment led to a drop off in the physical and mental activities that a person undertook. Critically, this coincided with a significant drop in a person’s physical health, as well as a steep decline in their intellectual capacity.
These findings reiterate the importance of visual function to the health of both an individual and a wider population, the authors explained.
“Interventional strategies to postpone visual impairment might contribute to maintaining physical and cognitive function in old age. This should be emphasised because approximately three-quarters of vision loss is avoidable, and many eye care interventions are cost effective,” the researchers concluded.
Image credit: Danil Roudenko