1. Oct 12, 2020

Older adults with vision impairment believe they face discrimination

Older adults in the United States who have vision and/or hearing impairment believe they are discriminated against more so than people without those impairments, according to a study in JAMA Ophthalmology.

In this cross-sectional analysis of the Health and Retirement Study 2006 and 2008 surveys, data from 13,092 included noninstitutionalized adults 51 years and older were included.

A Likert scale (poor, fair, good, very good, and excellent) was used by participants to rate their vision and hearing, while using eyeglasses and/or hearing aids. Sensory impairment was defined as poor or fair ability in the relevant modality, and sensory impairment was categorized as neither sensory impairment (NSI), vision impairment (VI) alone, hearing impairment (HI) along, and dual sensory impairments (DSI).

After the sample was weighted to represent the population of the United States, 11.7% had VI alone, 13.1% HI alone, and 7.9% DSI.

Greater discrimination was perceived in participants with VI alone, HI alone, and DSI compared to participants with NSI. In addition, participants in the DSI group perceived greater discrimination than participants in VI alone or HI alone groups.

The authors concluded that “these results provide insight into the social impact of sensory loss and highlight a need to identify and address reasons for discrimination toward older adults with VI and HI.


Shakarchi AF, Assi L, Ehrlich JR, et al. Dual sensory impairment and perceived everyday discrimination in the United States. JAMA Ophthalmol. Published online October 08, 2020. doi:10.1001/jamaophthalmol.2020.3982