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Visual impairment and the risk of mortality: addressing complex associations
  1. Alison Bruce
  1. Correspondence to Dr Alison Bruce, Bradford Institute for Health Research, Duckworth Lane, Bradford BD9 6RJ, UK; alison.bruce{at}

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The worldwide rise in the ageing population has led to increasing levels of visual impairment.1 Visual impairment impacts on the individual with the potential to lead to loss of independence, falls, depression and reduced functional ability, and at a population level, there is an impact on the delivery of public health resources.1–3 Not only does visual impairment impact on morbidity, its impact on the risk of mortality has also been reported; it is important therefore to understand its effect at an individual and population level. In this issue of Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, Zhang et al4 report the results of a meta-analysis investigating the association between visual impairment and mortality.

Several population-based studies have investigated the association between visual impairment and mortality, however not all studies have demonstrated comparable findings. The Beaver Dam Eye Study reported increased mortality associated with visual impairment and dense cataract over a 5-year period even after controlling for age and gender.5 The Blue Mountains Eye Study also reported an …

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