Vision Loss Associated with Work Status


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JAMA Ophthalmology

Bottom Line: Vision loss is associated with a higher likelihood of not working.

Author: Cheryl E. Sherrod, M.D., M.P.H., of Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, and colleagues.

Background: People who do not work have poorer physical and mental health, are less socially integrated and have lower self-confidence.

How the Study Was Conducted: The authors analyzed employment rates by vision impairment in a nationally representative sample of working-age Americans.

Results: The study included 19,849 participants in the 1999-2008 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey who completed a vision examination and employment/demographic questionnaires. Employment rates for men with visual impairment, uncorrected refractive error (difficulty focusing the eye) and normal vision were 58.7 percent, 66.5 percent and 76.2 percent, respectively. For women, the respective rates were 24.5 percent, 56 percent and 62.9 percent. The odds of not working for participants with visual impairment were higher for women, those individuals younger than 55 years and people with diabetes.

Discussion: “The cross-sectional nature of our study makes it difficult to conclude that poor vision was causative with regards to work status. Indeed, it is quite possible that URE (uncorrected refractive error) is the result of limited income from not working.”

(JAMA Ophthalmol. Published online July 17, 2014. doi:10.1001/.jamaopthalmol.2014.2213. Available pre-embargo to the media at

Editor’s Note: This work was supported by a grant from the National Institutes of Health and Research to Prevent Blindness. Please see article for additional information, including other authors, author contributions and affiliations, financial disclosures, funding and support, etc.

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