Should Older People Be Regularly Screened for Vision and Hearing by Primary Health Care Providers?
Jie Jin Wang, MMed, PhD, Centre for Vision Research, Department of Ophthalmology, Westmead Millennium Institute, University of Sydney, Australia. Jennifer L. Smith, BA, PhD, Australian Health Policy Institute, University of Sydney, Australia. Stephen R. Leeder, BSc (Med), MB, PhD, Australian Health Policy Institute, University of Sydney, and The Menzies Centre for Public Health Policy, Australia.
Vision and hearing impairments are common in older people. They not only impact on the quality of life and independent living of affected individuals, but also contribute to the overall burden of aged care. Although current evidence supports screening for age-related vision and/or hearing impairments, good- quality evidence on the effectiveness of sensory interventions (e.g., treatment for eye conditions or rehabilitation for hearing loss) is lacking. Evidence from community-based randomized controlled trials is needed before implementing community-wide screening. Case-finding during primary health care can be considered. Strategies to reduce the overall burden from common disabilities, including sensory impairments, among older people are keys to achieving the goal of “aging well, aging productively.” Key words: aging, screening, vision, hearing, sensory impairment.