home residents benefit from improved vision
Newswise — New research from UAB (University
of Alabama at Birmingham) shows that
providing vision care to persons in nursing
homes leads to better quality of life and a
decrease in depression. In findings
published this week in the Archives of
Ophthalmology, the authors state that the
study demonstrates that persons in nursing
homes can personally benefit from access to
the most basic of eye care services.
The UAB team, led by Cynthia Owsley, Ph.D.,
professor of ophthalmology, surveyed 142
people living in Birmingham-area nursing
homes with uncorrected refractive error.
Seventy eight received corrective eye
glasses immediately and were surveyed again
after two months.
They were compared to a control group of 64
residents who received their corrective eye
glasses after the follow-up survey.
Following two months of corrected vision,
the immediate correction group reported
dramatic improvement in vision-related
quality of life activities and less
depression than the delayed correction
“Compared to those who did not receive new
glasses immediately, the group who did
reported less difficulty in reading and
other activities of life, including writing,
using the telephone, playing cards or
watching TV,” Owsley said.
“They also reported engaging more in social
interactions such as visiting with others
and participating in group activities.”
Owsley says that nursing home residents in
the United States have high rates of vision
impairment, with estimates ranging up to 15
times higher than corresponding rates for
“There may be a pervasive attitude among
nursing home staff, family and health care
providers that many persons in nursing homes
would not benefit from vision correction due
to cognitive impairment or physical
frailty,” Owsley said.
“Our findings indicate that good vision is
associated with a more positive nursing home
experience. Such research could serve as a
strong impetus to increase the availability
of eye care services in nursing homes.”
The National Nursing Home Survey found that
only half of nursing homes have contracts
for vision and hearing services. Studies
have estimated that more than half of
nursing homes residents have no evidence of
having received eye care, even when an eye
care provider is available.
The study was funded by the Retirement
Research Foundation, the EyeSight Foundation
of Alabama, the Pearle Vision Foundation,
the National Institutes of Health and
Research to Prevent Blindness. Owsley is a
Research to Prevent Blindness Senior
Scientific Investigator and director of the
Clinical Research Unit in the Department of
Ophthalmology at UAB.