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Keywords:

  • age-related macular degeneration;
  • comorbidity;
  • disability;
  • cognitive impairment

Objectives

To examine whether performance on a brief memory test is related to functional outcomes in older individuals undergoing low-vision rehabilitation (LVR) for macular disease.

Design

Observational cohort study of individuals receiving outpatient LVR.

Setting

Academic center.

Participants

Ninety-one individuals (average age 80.1) with macular disease.

Measurements

Memory was assessed at baseline using a 10-word list; memory deficit was defined as immediate recall of two or fewer words. Vision-related function was measured using the 25-item Visual Function Questionnaire (VFQ-25) administered at baseline and during subsequent interviews (mean follow-up, 115 days). Linear mixed models were constructed to compare average trajectories of four VFQ-25 subscales: near activities, distance activities, dependency, and role difficulty.

Results

The 29.7% of participants with memory deficits tended to decline in ability to accomplish activities that involved near vision. Controlling for age, sex, and education, the functional trajectory of participants with memory deficit differed significantly from that of those with better memory (P = .002), who tended to report improvements in ability to accomplish near activities.

Conclusion

Of older adults receiving LVR for macular disease, those with memory deficits experienced worse functional trajectories in their ability to perform specific visually mediated tasks. A brief memory screen may help explain variability in rehabilitation outcomes and identify individuals who might require special accommodations.