Simulated Visual Impairment Leads to Cognitive Slowing in Older Adults

Purpose: To investigate the impact of different levels of simulated visual impairment on the cognitive test performance of older adults and to compare this with previous findings in younger adults.

Methods: Cognitive performance was assessed in 30 visually normal, community-dwelling older adults (mean = 70.2 ± 3.9 years). Four standard cognitive tests were used including the Digit Symbol Substitution Test, Trail Making Tests A and B, and the Stroop Color Word Test under three visual conditions: normal baseline vision and two levels of cataract simulating filters (Vistech), which were administered in a random order. Distance high-contrast visual acuity and Pelli-Robson letter contrast sensitivity were also assessed for all three visual conditions.

Results: Simulated cataract significantly impaired performance across all cognitive test performance measures. In addition, the impact of simulated cataract was significantly greater in this older cohort than in a younger cohort previously investigated. Individual differences in contrast sensitivity better predicted cognitive test performance than did visual acuity.

Conclusions: Visual impairment can lead to slowing of cognitive performance in older adults; these effects are greater than those observed in younger participants. This has important implications for neuropsychological testing of older populations who have a high prevalence of cataract.

Date: 09/13/2012
Author: Joanne Wood et al.
Organization: American Academy of Optometry
Reference: Optometry & Vision Science - Dec. 2010 - Vol. 87 - Iss. 12 - pp. 1037-1043
Only for Members: No
Content type: Scientific publications
Tags: cognition
Categories: Medical & Functions, Mental, Other