Longer lifespan has increased the number of individuals living with vision loss from age-related diseases. As vision loss is increasingly a problem of aging, effective healthcare must address the social, environmental, and behavioral aspects of functional behavior and wellbeing, according to a presentation on Tuesday by Alan R. Morse, JD, PhD, President & CEO of Lighthouse Guild, at the ARVO Annual Meeting in Vancouver.
The discussion was a part of a mini-symposium titled, “Aging with Vision Loss: Understanding the Aging Consequences of Visual Impairment,” moderated by Dr. Bonnielin K. Swenor of Johns Hopkins Wilmer Eye Institute and Dr. Ecosse Luc Lamoureux of the Singapore National Research Institute.
“Because people living with vision loss most often have other health issues, all service providers, including primary care physicians, dentists, podiatrists, physical therapists, and internists have to understand their role in identifying, providing care and referring patients for specialized services,” Dr. Morse said in a company news release.”Every touchpoint is an opportunity to help those with vision loss.”
He pointed out that the onset of legal blindness increases the likelihood of limitations of activities of daily living. He also noted that as many as 30% of patients with vision impairment have depression, a condition which has its own decompensating trajectory.
In hospitals, vision loss is rarely addressed in the patient’s care plan, even though patients with vision loss stay in the hospital longer, experience more problems after discharge, and, overall, are less satisfied with their healthcare.
Dr. Morse called for a greater understanding of the importance of vision loss to everyday functioning and wellbeing to better meet patient needs.