Optometry, Research

Majority of seniors unaware of their suboptimal vision

A recent survey has found that a majority of 70-year-olds are not aware how poor their vision is or that either getting glasses or changing their prescription could improve it.

The research, conducted by the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, found that despite a significant majority of 70-year-olds being satisfied with their vision, many overestimated how well they could actually see.

Additionally, 61.5% of respondents were also able to see better by either getting glasses or changing the power of the ones they currently had.

“Visual impairment can creep up on you, making it difficult to notice that your eyes are getting worse,” Ms Lena Havstam Johansson, PhD student at the University of Gothenburg and ophthalmic nurse at Sahlgrenska University Hospital, said.

“So it’s a good idea to visit an optician regularly when you get older, even if you don’t feel your sight is deteriorating.”

Another notable finding of the survey was that people struggled to perceive their own eyesight and visual shortcomings, as well as develop an informed understanding about how it is in reality.

Among the survey participants whose vision had deteriorated, the majority still regarded their eyesight as good. Participants filled out an ocular mobility questionnaire that asked how they perceived their eyesight and how visual problems affect their everyday lives.

Researchers then took a proportion of survey respondents and examined their central vision, peripheral vision and contrast sensitivity. Participants’ also received lens and retina photographs to check for disease.

“Above all, it was reduced contrast sensitivity that made people think their sight was poor,” Professor Madeleine Zetterberg, co-author of the study, said.

“Impaired visual acuity or visual field defects had less of an impact on how they perceived their own eyesight.”

Incorrect lens prescriptions were equally common among men and women, however women recorded slightly worse eyesight than men on average which the researchers believe is partly explained by a higher prevalence of cataracts.

The findings were published in the journal Acta Ophthalmologica.