ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Needing eyeglasses is one of the most common conditions across the world. Over two billion people have some form of vision impairment, according to the World Health Organization. While mild vision impairment may not seem like a serious thing, a recent study finds needing glasses can lead to a higher risk of death.
Researchers from the University of Michigan examined data on more than 48,000 people from 17 previous studies. Their review revealed that those who suffer from severe issues in vision are more at risk of dying from all causes compared to those with little to no issues in vision. Study authors find that those with mild issues in vision have a 29-percent greater risk of mortality than those without vision issues. Additionally, those with severe eye issues and vision impairment have an 89-percent higher risk of mortality.
Going for an eye exam can save lives
Luckily, researchers say modern medicine can treat or correct 20 percent of the cases they examined in their study. Cataracts, one of the leading causes of vision loss worldwide, is typically treatable through the implantation of artificial lenses. Study authors note vision impairment can also occur when people avoid or refuse eye screenings for glasses, which often leads to severe issues with their vision later on.
Globally, the WHO estimates that around one billion cases of vision impairment are preventable. However, in many of these cases, the patient has yet to seek treatment for their weakening eyesight.
“It’s important these issues are addressed early on because losing your vision affects more than just how you see the world; it affects your experience of the world and your life,” says lead author Joshua Ehrlich, M.D., M.P.H. in a university release. “This analysis provides an important opportunity to promote not only health and wellbeing, but also longevity by correcting, rehabilitating, and preventing avoidable vision loss across the globe.”
Ehrlich also participated in a previous study that focuses on the link between overall health and vision impairment later in life. That study included the effects of vision impairment on depression, dementia, and a person’s ability to be independent.
This findings appear in The Lancet Global Health.