Sociodemographic, behavioral, and medical risk factors associated with visual impairment among older adults: a community-based pilot survey in Southern District of Hong Kong

BMC Ophthalmol. 2020 Sep 18;20(1):372. doi: 10.1186/s12886-020-01644-1.


Background: The last visual survey of older adults in Hong Kong was a district-level study in 2002, with no assessment of behavioral and medical risk factors for visual impairment (VI). Our objectives were to determine the latest VI prevalence among older adults, significance of any spatial and temporal differences on the prevalence, and any associations of sociodemographic, behavioral and medical risk factors with VI from a multi-perspective analysis.

Methods: Community-based pilot survey of residents from a suburb of Hong Kong, aged ≥50, using a standardized questionnaire, was conducted in 2016.

Results: Of the 222 subjects, crude rates of bilateral and unilateral VI were 9.46 and 32.88%, respectively, or corresponding age-and-gender-adjusted rates of 6.89 and 30.5%. Older age and lower educational were associated with higher risk for unilateral VI, while older age, temporary housing, obesity and hyperlipidemia were associated with higher risk for bilateral VI. Smoking and alcohol-drinking status were not associated with unilateral or bilateral VI. Relative changes in ORs of hypertension or educational level on unilateral or bilateral VI were > 10% after adjusting for age. Interaction term between hyperlipidemia and gender or obesity was significant for unilateral VI. Gender, hypertension and cataract were not associated with unilateral or bilateral VI in general population of pooled analysis but were identified as risk factors in specific subgroups of stratified analysis. Refractive error (myopia or hyperopia) was significantly associated with VI in the eye-level analysis after adjusting the inter-eye correlation.

Conclusions: Sociodemographic and medical risk factors contributed to VI, but behavioral risk factors did not. Sociodemographic disparities of visual health existed. Age was the confounders of the VI-hypertension or VI-educational level relationships. Gender and obesity were more likely to have multiplicative effect on unilateral VI when combined with hyperlipidemia. Stratified analysis should be conducted to provide further insight into the risk factors for VI in specific populations. Uncorrected refractive error remains a significant cause of impaired vision. The spatial and temporal differences in bilateral VI prevalence from the previous local study indicates a territory-wide survey is needed to assess regional differences and overall prevalence of VI in Hong Kong.

Keywords: Disparities; Eye-level analysis; Hong Kong; Interaction effect; Prevalence; Risk factors; Stratified analysis; Survey; Visual impairment.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Hong Kong / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Vision Disorders* / epidemiology
  • Vision Disorders* / etiology
  • Visual Acuity