Visual impairment (VI) increases with age and has been reported to be more prevalent among older adults living in old age homes than in the general population.
To determine the prevalence and causes of VI among older adults living in low-income old age homes in Durban, South Africa.
This study was conducted at low-income old age homes in Durban.
This cross-sectional study of 118 residents aged 60 years and older, collected socio-demographic data, presenting visual acuities (VAs) for each eye, and binocularly. Anterior segment eye examinations were conducted with a penlight torch and a portable slit-lamp, while posterior segment evaluation was conducted with direct and indirect ophthalmoscopy. Objective and subjective refractions were performed, and the best-corrected distance and near VAs were measured in each eye. VI was defined as presenting VA 6/18 and included moderate VI ( 6/18-6/60), severe VI ( 6/60 -3/60) and blindness ( 6/120).
The mean age of the participants was 73.3 years and included 80.5% females and 19.5% males. The prevalence of VI and blindness was 63.6%. Optical correction significantly reduced the prevalence of VI and blindness by 19.5% (p 0.05). The main causes of non-refractive VI and blindness were cataract (54.5%), posterior segment disorders (25.5%) and corneal opacities (20%).
The prevalence of VI and blindness is high among residents in low-income old age homes living in Durban. Refractive correction and surgical cataract intervention can significantly reduce the burden of VI and blindness among the elderly residents.