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Am J Epidemiol. 2014 Feb 1;179(3):313-22. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwt257. Epub 2013 Oct 22.

A longitudinal study of the association between visual impairment and mobility performance in older adults: the salisbury eye evaluation study.


Few longitudinal studies have examined how visual impairment affects mobility as people age. Data from the Salisbury Eye Evaluation Study, a population-based sample of 2,520 adults aged 65 years and older, were used to investigate the longitudinal association between visual impairment and mobility. Baseline, 2-year, 6-year, and 8-year visits occurred between 1993 and 2001. Mobility was assessed by measuring speeds on the following 3 tasks: walking up 7 steps, walking down 7 steps, and walking 4 m. Random-effects linear regression was used to model factors affecting speed. For each year of observation, speeds declined, and the visually impaired had significantly slower speeds than the non--visually impaired on all 3 tests after accounting for other covariates (βwalking up steps = -0.08 steps/second, 95% confidence interval (CI): -0.10, -0.06; βwalking down steps = -0.11 steps/second, 95% CI: -0.14, -0.08; and βwalking 4 m = -0.08 m/second, 95% CI: -0.10, -0.06). However, the interaction between years since baseline and visual impairment status was not significant, indicating that mobility speeds declined at a similar rate in the visually impaired and the non--visually impaired. These results suggest that the impact of visual impairment on speed is significant but does not change as people age.


aging; disability; mobility; visual impairment

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