Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta presented findings on cardiovascular disease and vision impairment in US adults at the recent 2021 ARVO virtual meeting. They noted that adults with vision impairment tend to have higher rates of cardiovascular disease than those without, but currently, little is known about whether those with vision impairment have higher rates of risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

The researchers gathered nationally representative data on 23,071 adults with cardiovascular disease and vision impairment from the 2018 National Health Interview Survey of noninstitutionalized civilians in the United States. They defined vision impairment as difficulty seeing, even with the help of glasses or contact lenses. Coronary heart disease, angina, myocardial infarction, stroke or other heart disease were all factors of cardiovascular disease.

The researchers evaluated the following risk factors for cardiovascular disease: smoking, physical inactivity, excessive alcohol intake, obesity, hypertension, high cholesterol and diabetes. Outcome models were controlled for age, sex, ethnicity, education, marital status, employment, income and health insurance.

In the study population, 12.9% of individuals had vision impairment. The average age was 47.3 years, with 51.6% females. The researchers identified the crude prevalence of cardiovascular disease as 26.5% in those with vision impairment and 12.1% in those without. “Compared with adults without vision impairment, those with vision impairment had a greater number of cardiovascular disease risk factors and a higher prevalence of all seven cardiovascular disease risk factors,” they wrote in their abstract.

The researchers concluded that reducing cardiovascular disease risk in adults with vision impairment will require “effective clinical and lifestyle interventions, adapted to accommodate vision impairment-related disability, to aid in the prevention and management of cardiovascular disease.”

Lundeen EA, Kim M, Mendez I, et al. Cardiovascular disease risk factors in U.S. adults with vision impairment. ARVO 2021 Meeting.