Older people with dementia and self-reported visual impairment may be at a greater disability risk, which suggests the growing number of individuals with both conditions may benefit from interventions to maximize vision and cognition and promote independence, a study in JAMA Ophthalmology reports.

Participants in the investigation showed greater limitations in mobility, self-care and household activities than would be expected if they only had one of the conditions, the researchers noted.

The cross-sectional analysis included data from 7,124 participants in the 2015 National Health and Aging Trends Study, an annual investigation of US adults aged 65 and older.

Self-reported visual impairment was present in 8.6% of participants, while 8.3% had possible and 6.3% had probable dementia.

Self-reported visual impairment was associated with an expected decrease of 14.7% in mobility scores, 9.5% in self-care scores and 15.2% in household activity scores. Probable dementia was associated with expected decreases of 27.8% in mobility, 22.9% in self-care, and 34.7% in household activities.

Individuals with both conditions had an expected 50.1% decrease in mobility scores, a 42.4% decrease in self-care scores, and a decrease of 52.4% in the household activity score.

Patel N, Stagg BC, Swenor BK, et al. Association of co-occurring dementia and self-reported visual impairment with activity limitations in older adults. JAMA Ophthalmol. May 14, 2020. [Epub ahead of print].