The assessment of cognition in visually impaired older adults

Age Ageing. 2013 Jan;42(1):98-102. doi: 10.1093/ageing/afs157. Epub 2012 Oct 28.


Background: visual and cognitive impairments are common in later life. Yet there are very few cognitive screening tests for the visually impaired.

Objective: to screen for cognitive impairment in the visually impaired.

Methods: case-control study including 150 elderly participants with visual impairment (n = 74) and a control group without visual impairment (n = 76) using vision-independent cognitive tests and cognitive screening tests (MMSE and clock drawing tests (CDT)) which are in part vision dependent.

Results: the scoring of the two groups did not differ in the vision-independent cognitive tests. Visually impaired patients performed poorer than controls in the vision-dependent items of the MMSE (T = 7.3; df: 148; P < 0.001) and in CDT (T = 3.1; df: 145; P = 0.003). No group difference was found when vision-independent items were added to MMSE and CDT. The test score gain by the use of vision-independent items correlated with the severity of visual impairment (P < 0.002).

Conclusion: visually impaired patients benefit from cognitive tests, which do not rely on vision. The more visually impaired the greater the benefit.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / complications
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / diagnosis*
  • Dementia / complications
  • Dementia / diagnosis*
  • Humans
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Vision Disorders* / complications