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Acta Ophthalmol. 2018 Oct 27. doi: 10.1111/aos.13956. [Epub ahead of print]

Reducing avoidable visual impairment in elderly home healthcare patients by basic ophthalmologic screening.

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Ophthalmology, Amsterdam Public Health research institute, Amsterdam UMC, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
Stichting Buurtzorg Nederland, Almelo, The Netherlands.
Albert Schweitzer hospital, Dordrecht, The Netherlands.
Department of Research Methodology, Measurement and Data Analysis, Faculty of Behavioural, Management & Social Sciences, University of Twente, Enschede, The Netherlands.
Radboud University Medical Center, Ophthalmology, Nijmegen, The Netherlands.
Elkerliek Hospital, Ophthalmology, Helmond, The Netherlands.



To investigate the prevalence of potential age-related eye conditions in elderly who are assisted by home healthcare nurses. The number of referrals to the general practitioner (GP), feasibility of screening and associations between vision loss and health outcomes were also studied.


Cross-sectional study in which trained home healthcare nurses screened the eyes of 151 patients [mean age 80 (50-96 years)] using their available correction, with VISION 2020 Netherlands screeners (e.g. acuity/field loss). Health outcomes were assessed with questionnaires.


Distance decimal visual acuity was ≤0.3 in 20.5% (unilateral) and 19.9% (bilateral) of patients, and near visual acuity was ≤0.4 in 17.7% (unilateral) and 33.3% (bilateral). Macular dysfunction was present in 21.5% (unilateral) and 8.3% (bilateral) and peripheral field problems in 11.4% (unilateral) and 7.9% (bilateral). GP referrals were proposed in 21.5%; in 40%, the GP or ophthalmologist was already aware of eye problems. Although health problems were prominent in participants (8.6% fractures, 22% depression and 18% anxiety), no significant associations were found between vision loss and self-reported outcomes.


Sixty per cent of frail elderly home healthcare patients had an ophthalmologic condition. Although a large number was already known in eye health care, >20% was referred with an unrecognized ophthalmologic problem. Basic ophthalmologic screening by home healthcare nurses might be a potentially relevant tool to reduce the burden of age-related vision loss, contributing to the joint World Health Organization - VISION 2020 initiative to eliminate avoidable blindness. Relevant health outcomes do not seem to be clearly related to having visual impairment, but rather to having general health problems.


VISION 2020; elderly; eye screening; home health care; quality of life; visual impairment


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