The Smith-Kettlewell Institute (SKI) longitudinal study of vision function and its impact among the elderly: an overview

Optom Vis Sci. 2001 May;78(5):264-9. doi: 10.1097/00006324-200105000-00008.


We present an overview of a multifaceted longitudinal study of vision function and its interaction with daily activities, health, and well-being among 900 persons aged 58 to 102 years at the first visit. Standard vision measures as well as nonconventional tests designed to assess visual performance under the nonideal conditions encountered in everyday life were used. Here we summarize a few of the findings to date, with an emphasis on a direct comparison of declines in different aspects of vision function with age. The rates of declines with advancing age vary widely for the different vision functions. Also described is the reading performance of the sample and its association with some of the vision measures. Furthermore, we describe some of the associations between vision test scores and extensive longitudinal health and functioning data collected by the Buck Center for Research in Aging. Findings show that many older people with good acuity are effectively visually impaired in performing everyday tasks involving low and changing light levels, stereopsis, glare, and low contrast. We also found that vision under nonideal conditions cannot be predicted from standard acuity on an individual basis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Contrast Sensitivity / physiology
  • Female
  • Geriatric Assessment
  • Health Status Indicators
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Vision, Ocular / physiology*
  • Visual Acuity / physiology