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1.  Causes of visual impairment in people aged 75 years and older in Britain: an add-on study to the MRC Trial of Assessment and Management of Older People in the Community 
Background: Visual impairment and blindness are common in older people in Britain. It is important to know the causes of visual impairment to develop health service and research priorities. The authors aimed to identify the causes of visual impairment in people aged 75 years and older in Britain.
Methods: In the MRC Trial of the Assessment and Management of Older People in the Community, trial nurses tested visual acuity in everyone aged 75 years and older in 53 general practices. For all visually impaired patients in 49 of the 53 medical practices, data regarding the cause of vision loss were extracted from the general practice medical notes. Additional follow up questionnaires were also sent to the hospital ophthalmologist to confirm the cause of vision loss. Visual impairment was defined as a binocular acuity of less than 6/18.
Results: There were 1742 (12.5%) people visually impaired in the 49 participating practices. Of these, 450 (26%) achieved a pinhole visual acuity in either eye of 6/18 or better. In these people, the principal reason for visual loss was considered to be refractive error. The cause of visual loss was available for 976 (76%) of the remaining 1292 visually impaired people identified. The main cause of visual loss was age related macular degeneration (AMD); 52.9% (95% confidence interval 49.2 to 56.5) of people had AMD as a main or contributory cause. This was followed by cataract (35.9%), glaucoma (11.6%), myopic degeneration (4.2%), and diabetic eye disease (3.4%).
Conclusions: A substantial proportion of visual impairment in our sample of older people in Britain can be attributed to remediable causes—refractive error and cataract. There is considerable potential for visual rehabilitation in this age group. For the large proportion with macular degeneration, low vision services will be important.
doi:10.1136/bjo.2003.019927
PMCID: PMC1772038  PMID: 14977771
visual impairment; elderly; age related macular degeneration; cataract
2.  Prevalence of visual impairment in people aged 75 years and older in Britain: results from the MRC trial of assessment and management of older people in the community 
Aims: To measure the prevalence of visual impairment in a large representative sample of people aged 75 years and over participating in the MRC trial of assessment and management of older people in the community.
Methods: 53 practices in the MRC general practice research framework. Data were obtained from 14 600 participants aged 75 years and older. Prevalence of visual impairment overall (binocular visual acuity <6/18) which was categorised separately into low vision (binocular visual acuity <6/18–3/60) or blindness (binocular visual acuity of <3/60). The prevalence of binocular acuity <6/12 was presented for comparison with other studies. Visual acuity was measured using Glasgow acuity charts; glasses, if worn, were not removed.
Results: Visual acuity was available for 14 600 people out of 21 241 invited (69%). Among people with visual acuity data, 12.4% overall (1803) were visually impaired (95% confidence intervals 10.8% to 13.9%); 1501 (10.3%) were categorised as having low vision (8.7% to 11.8%), and 302 (2.1%) were blind (1.8% to 2.4%). At ages 75–79, 6.2% of the cohort were visually impaired (5.1% to 7.3%) with 36.9% at age 90+ (32.5% to 41.3%). At ages 75–79, 0.6% (0.4% to 0.8%) of the study population were blind, with 6.9% (4.8% to 9.0%) at age 90+. In multivariate regression, controlling for age, women had significant excess risk of visual impairment (odds ratio 1.43, 95% confidence interval 1.29 to 1.58). Overall, 19.9% of study participants had a binocular acuity of less than 6/12 (17.8% to 22.0%).
Conclusion: The results from this large study show that visual impairment is common in the older population and that this risk increases rapidly with advancing age, especially for women. A relatively conservative measure of visual impairment was used. If visual impairment had been defined as visual acuity of <6/12 (American definition of visual impairment), the age specific prevalence estimates would have increased by 60%.
PMCID: PMC1771210  PMID: 12084753
visual impairment; blindness; prevalence; elderly
3.  A Case-Control Study to Assess the Relationship between Poverty and Visual Impairment from Cataract in Kenya, the Philippines, and Bangladesh 
PLoS Medicine  2008;5(12):e244.
Background
The link between poverty and health is central to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Poverty can be both a cause and consequence of poor health, but there are few epidemiological studies exploring this complex relationship. The aim of this study was to examine the association between visual impairment from cataract and poverty in adults in Kenya, Bangladesh, and the Philippines.
Methods and Findings
A population-based case–control study was conducted in three countries during 2005–2006. Cases were persons aged 50 y or older and visually impaired due to cataract (visual acuity < 6/24 in the better eye). Controls were persons age- and sex-matched to the case participants with normal vision selected from the same cluster. Household expenditure was assessed through the collection of detailed consumption data, and asset ownership and self-rated wealth were also measured. In total, 596 cases and 535 controls were included in these analyses (Kenya 142 cases, 75 controls; Bangladesh 216 cases, 279 controls; Philippines 238 cases, 180 controls). Case participants were more likely to be in the lowest quartile of per capita expenditure (PCE) compared to controls in Kenya (odds ratio = 2.3, 95% confidence interval 0.9–5.5), Bangladesh (1.9, 1.1–3.2), and the Philippines (3.1, 1.7–5.7), and there was significant dose–response relationship across quartiles of PCE. These associations persisted after adjustment for self-rated health and social support indicators. A similar pattern was observed for the relationship between cataract visual impairment with asset ownership and self-rated wealth. There was no consistent pattern of association between PCE and level of visual impairment due to cataract, sex, or age among the three countries.
Conclusions
Our data show that people with visual impairment due to cataract were poorer than those with normal sight in all three low-income countries studied. The MDGs are committed to the eradication of extreme poverty and provision of health care to poor people, and this study highlights the need for increased provision of cataract surgery to poor people, as they are particularly vulnerable to visual impairment from cataract.
Hannah Kuper and colleagues report a population-based case-control study conducted in three countries that found an association between poverty and visual impairment from cataract.
Editors' Summary
Background.
Globally, about 45 million people are blind. As with many other conditions, avoidable blindness (preventable or curable blindness) is a particular problem for people in developing countries—90% of blind people live in poor regions of the world. Although various infections and disorders can cause blindness, cataract is the most common cause. In cataract, which is responsible for half of all cases of blindness in the world, the lens of the eye gradually becomes cloudy. Because the lens focuses light to produce clear, sharp images, as cataract develops, vision becomes increasingly foggy or fuzzy, colors become less intense, and the ability to see shapes against a background declines. Eventually, vision may be lost completely. Cataract can be treated with an inexpensive, simple operation in which the cloudy lens is surgically removed and an artificial lens is inserted into the eye to restore vision. In developed countries, this operation is common and easily accessible but many poor countries lack the resources to provide the operation to everyone who needs it. In addition, blind people often cannot afford to travel to the hospitals where the operation, which also may come with a fee, is done.
Why Was This Study Done?
Because blindness may reduce earning potential, many experts believe that poverty and blindness (and, more generally, poor health) are inextricably linked. People become ill more often in poor countries than in wealthy countries because they have insufficient food, live in substandard housing, and have limited access to health care, education, water, and sanitation. Once they are ill, their ability to earn money may be reduced, which increases their personal poverty and slows the economic development of the whole country. Because of this potential link between health and poverty, improvements in health are at the heart of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, a set of eight goals established in 2000 with the primary aim of reducing world poverty. However, few studies have actually investigated the complex relationship between poverty and health. Here, the researchers investigate the association between visual impairment from cataract and poverty among adults living in three low-income countries.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified nearly 600 people aged 50 y or more with severe cataract-induced visual impairment (“cases”) primarily through a survey of the population in Kenya, Bangladesh, and the Philippines. They matched each case to a normally sighted (“control”) person of similar age and sex living nearby. They then assessed a proxy for the income level, measured as “per capita expenditure” (PCE), of all the study participants (people with cataracts and controls) by collecting information about what their households consumed. The participants' housing conditions and other assets and their self-rated wealth were also measured. In all three countries, cases were more likely to be in the lowest quarter (quartile) of the range of PCEs for that country than controls. In the Philippines, for example, people with cataract-affected vision were three times more likely than normally sighted controls to have a PCE in the lowest quartile than in the highest quartile. The risk of cataract-related visual impairment increased as PCE decreased in all three countries. Similarly, severe cataract-induced visual impairment was more common in those who owned fewer assets and those with lower self-rated wealth. However, there was no consistent association between PCE and the level of cataract-induced visual impairment.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that there is an association between visual impairment caused by cataract and poverty in Kenya, Bangladesh, and the Philippines. However, because the financial circumstances of the people in this study were assessed after cataracts had impaired their sight, this study does not prove that poverty is a cause of visual impairment. A causal connection between poverty and cataract can only be shown by determining the PCEs of normally sighted people and following them for several years to see who develops cataract. Nevertheless, by confirming an association between poverty and blindness, these findings highlight the need for increased provision of cataract surgery to poor people, particularly since cataract surgery has the potential to improve the quality of life for many people in developing countries at a relatively low cost.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0050244.
This study is further discussed in a PLoS Medicine Perspective by Susan Lewallen
The MedlinePlus encyclopedia contains a page on cataract, and MedlinePlus also provides a list of links to further information about cataract (in English and Spanish)
VISION 2020, a global initiative for the elimination of avoidable blindness launched by the World Health Organization and the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness, provides information in several languages about many causes of blindness, including cataract. It also has an article available for download on blindness, poverty, and development
Information is available from the World Health Organization on health and the Millennium Development Goals (in English, French, and Spanish)
The International Centre for Eye Health carries out research and education activities to improve eye health and eliminate avoidable blindness with a focus on populations with low incomes
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0050244
PMCID: PMC2602716  PMID: 19090614
4.  Stress Hyperglycaemia in Hospitalised Patients and Their 3-Year Risk of Diabetes: A Scottish Retrospective Cohort Study 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(8):e1001708.
In a retrospective analysis of a national database of hospital admissions, David McAllister and colleagues identify the 3-year risk of diabetes of hospitalized patients with hyperglycemia in Scotland.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
Hyperglycaemia during hospital admission is common in patients who are not known to have diabetes and is associated with adverse outcomes. The risk of subsequently developing type 2 diabetes, however, is not known.
We linked a national database of hospital admissions with a national register of diabetes to describe the association between admission glucose and the risk of subsequently developing type 2 diabetes.
Methods and Findings
In a retrospective cohort study, patients aged 30 years or older with an emergency admission to hospital between 2004 and 2008 were included. Prevalent and incident diabetes were identified through the Scottish Care Information (SCI)-Diabetes Collaboration national registry. Patients diagnosed prior to or up to 30 days after hospitalisation were defined as prevalent diabetes and were excluded.
The predicted risk of developing incident type 2 diabetes during the 3 years following hospital discharge by admission glucose, age, and sex was obtained from logistic regression models. We performed separate analyses for patients aged 40 and older, and patients aged 30 to 39 years.
Glucose was measured in 86,634 (71.0%) patients aged 40 and older on admission to hospital. The 3-year risk of developing type 2 diabetes was 2.3% (1,952/86,512) overall, was <1% for a glucose ≤5 mmol/l, and increased to approximately 15% at 15 mmol/l. The risks at 7 mmol/l and 11.1 mmol/l were 2.6% (95% CI 2.5–2.7) and 9.9% (95% CI 9.2–10.6), respectively, with one in four (21,828/86,512) and one in 40 (1,798/86,512) patients having glucose levels above each of these cut-points. For patients aged 30–39, the risks at 7 mmol/l and 11.1 mmol/l were 1.0% (95% CI 0.8–1.3) and 7.8% (95% CI 5.7–10.7), respectively, with one in eight (1,588/11,875) and one in 100 (120/11,875) having glucose levels above each of these cut-points.
The risk of diabetes was also associated with age, sex, and socio-economic deprivation, but not with specialty (medical versus surgical), raised white cell count, or co-morbidity. Similar results were obtained for pre-specified sub-groups admitted with myocardial infarction, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and stroke.
There were 25,193 deaths (85.8 per 1,000 person-years) over 297,122 person-years, of which 2,406 (8.1 per 1,000 person-years) were attributed to vascular disease. Patients with glucose levels of 11.1 to 15 mmol/l and >15 mmol/l had higher mortality than patients with a glucose of <6.1 mmol/l (hazard ratio 1.54; 95% CI 1.42–1.68 and 2.50; 95% CI 2.14–2.95, respectively) in models adjusting for age and sex.
Limitations of our study include that we did not have data on ethnicity or body mass index, which may have improved prediction and the results have not been validated in non-white populations or populations outside of Scotland.
Conclusion
Plasma glucose measured during an emergency hospital admission predicts subsequent risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Mortality was also 1.5-fold higher in patients with elevated glucose levels. Our findings can be used to inform patients of their long-term risk of type 2 diabetes, and to target lifestyle advice to those patients at highest risk.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Insulin—a hormone released by the pancreas after meals—controls blood glucose (sugar) levels in healthy individuals. However, many patients admitted to hospital because of an acute illness have hyperglycemia, an abnormally high blood glucose level. In this setting, hyperglycemia can be caused by the drugs that patients are taking for existing conditions or may be stress hyperglycemia, a reversible condition in which hormonal changes induced by acute illness stimulate glucose production by the liver. However, hyperglycemia detected during an acute illness may also indicate underlying or incipient type 2 diabetes, a common condition in which blood glucose control fails. Type 2 diabetes can initially be controlled by diet, exercise, and antidiabetic drugs but many patients eventually need insulin injections to control their blood sugar level. Long-term complications of type 2 diabetes, which include an increased risk of heart attacks and stroke, reduce the life expectancy of people with diabetes by about 10 years compared to people without diabetes
Why Was This Study Done?
Prompt diagnosis of type 2 diabetes can minimize its long-term complications, so experts have designed several scoring systems based on lifestyle and other characteristics that allow primary care clinicians to identify the patients who should be tested for diabetes because they are at high risk of developing the condition. Unfortunately, these scoring systems cannot be used to interpret a high blood glucose result obtained during an acute illness so clinicians cannot currently advise their patients on the clinical significance of this type of abnormal glucose reading or make an informed decision about whether follow-up testing is needed. In this retrospective cohort study, the researchers investigate the association between blood glucose levels measured during emergency hospital admissions in Scotland and the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by linking together national databases of hospital admissions, laboratory test results, and people with diabetes. A retrospective cohort study examines the medical histories of a group of patients.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers used the databases to identify more than 100,000 patients aged 30 years or older who were admitted to a hospital for an acute illness between 2004 and 2008 in Scotland, to obtain information on blood glucose levels on admission for nearly three-quarters of these patients, and to identify which patients subsequently developed diabetes. They then used statistical models to estimate the patients' risk of developing type 2 diabetes during the 3 years following hospital discharge. Among patients aged 40 years or older, the overall 3-year risk of developing diabetes was 2.3%. The risk of developing diabetes increased linearly with increasing blood glucose level at admission. Specifically, the 3-year risks at blood glucose levels of 7 mmol/l and 11.1 mmol/l were 2.6% and 9.9%, respectively; because glucose levels fluctuate according to when an individual last ate, fasting blood glucose levels of 7 mmol/l and non-fasting blood glucose levels of 11.1 mmol/l are used as thresholds for the diagnosis of diabetes. The diabetes risk associated with blood glucose levels on admission among 30–39-year-old patients followed a similar pattern but was less marked. Finally, high glucose levels on admission were associated with increased mortality.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that blood glucose measured during an emergency hospital admission predicts the subsequent risk of type 2 diabetes among patients aged 40 years or older (the analysis specified in the researchers' original protocol). Importantly, however, they also suggest that a high blood glucose reading in these circumstances usually indicates stress hyperglycemia rather than type 2 diabetes. The accuracy and generalizability of these findings may be limited by the lack of data on ethnicity or body mass index (a measure of obesity), both of which affect diabetes risk, and by other aspects of the study design. Nevertheless, given their findings, the researchers recommend that any patient with a blood glucose level above 11.1 mmol/l on hospital admission for an acute illness (one in 40 patients in this study) should be offered follow-up testing. In addition, the researchers constructed a risk calculator using their findings that should help clinicians to inform their patients about their long-term risk of diabetes following hyperglycemia during an acute hospital admission and to target lifestyle advice to those patients at the highest risk of type 2 diabetes.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001708.
The US National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse provides information about diabetes and about diabetes prevention (in English and Spanish)
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides information about type 2 diabetes and about living with diabetes; it also provides people's stories about diabetes
The charity Diabetes UK provides information about diabetes in several languages, including information on healthy lifestyles for people with diabetes
Wikipedia has a page on stress hyperglycemia (note that Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
More information about stress hyperglycemia is available in Diapedia, a living textbook of diabetes produced by the European Association for the Study of Diabetes
GUARD (Glucose on Unselected Admissions and Risk of Diabetes), a risk calculator that allows clinicians to estimate a patient's 3-year risk of diabetes following hyperglycemia at hospital admission for an acute illness, is available online
The UK-based non-profit organization Healthtalkonline has interviews with people about their experiences of diabetes
MedlinePlus provides links to further resources and advice about diabetes and diabetes prevention (in English and Spanish)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001708
PMCID: PMC4138030  PMID: 25136809
5.  Rapid Assessment of Avoidable Blindness in Western Rwanda: Blindness in a Postconflict Setting 
PLoS Medicine  2007;4(7):e217.
Background
The World Health Organization estimates that there were 37 million blind people in 2002 and that the prevalence of blindness was 9% among adults in Africa aged 50 years or older. Recent surveys indicate that this figure may be overestimated, while a survey from southern Sudan suggested that postconflict areas are particularly vulnerable to blindness. The aim of this study was to conduct a Rapid Assessment for Avoidable Blindness to estimate the magnitude and causes of visual impairment in people aged ≥ 50 y in the postconflict area of the Western Province of Rwanda, which includes one-quarter of the population of Rwanda.
Methods and Findings
Clusters of 50 people aged ≥ 50 y were selected through probability proportionate to size sampling. Households within clusters were selected through compact segment sampling. Visual acuity (VA) was measured with a tumbling “E” chart, and those with VA below 6/18 in either eye were examined by an ophthalmologist. The teams examined 2,206 people (response rate 98.0%). The unadjusted prevalence of bilateral blindness was 1.8% (95% confidence interval [CI] 1.2%–2.4%), 1.3% (0.8%–1.7%) for severe visual impairment, and 5.3% (4.2%–6.4%) for visual impairment. Most bilateral blindness (65%) was due to cataract. Overall, the vast majority of cases of blindness (80.0%), severe visual impairment (67.9%), and visual impairment (87.2%) were avoidable (i.e.. due to cataract, refractive error, aphakia, trachoma, or corneal scar). The cataract surgical coverage was moderate; 47% of people with bilateral cataract blindness (VA < 3/60) had undergone surgery. Of the 29 eyes that had undergone cataract surgery, nine (31%) had a best-corrected poor outcome (i.e., VA < 6/60). Extrapolating these estimates to Rwanda's Western Province, among the people aged 50 years or above 2,565 are expected to be blind, 1,824 to have severe visual impairment, and 8,055 to have visual impairment.
Conclusions
The prevalence of blindness and visual impairment in this postconflict area in the Western Province of Rwanda was far lower than expected. Most of the cases of blindness and visual impairment remain avoidable, however, suggesting that the implementation of an effective eye care service could reduce the prevalence further.
A survey of 2,250 people aged 50 y or over in Rwanda, based on clusters of 50 people, found a much lower prevalence of blindness than expected.
Editors' Summary
Background.
VISION 2020, a global initiative that aims to eliminate avoidable blindness, has estimated that 75% of blindness worldwide is treatable or preventable. The WHO estimates that in Africa, around 9% of adults aged over 50 are blind. Some data suggest that people living in regions affected by violent conflict are more likely to be blind than those living in unaffected regions. Currently no data exist on the likely prevalence of blindness in Rwanda, a central African country that is rebuilding following the 1994 genocide and civil war. Parts of the country, such as the Western Province, currently have no eye care services at all, but the government is trying to plan what services are necessary for this part of the country.
Why Was This Study Done?
These researchers wanted to collect data that would help them estimate the number of people suffering from avoidable blindness in Western Province, Rwanda, and to find out the main causes of blindness in this region. The approach they adopted is known as the Rapid Assessment of Avoidable Blindness (RAAB).
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
This research project used survey methods based on the 2002 Rwandan national census. The researchers used the census to produce a list of settlements in Western Province, together with the number of individuals living in each settlement. Settlements were randomly picked from the list using a technique that was more likely to pick out bigger settlements than smaller ones. Each settlement was then divided into “cells,” with each cell containing around 500–700 people. One cell was randomly chosen from each settlement. Then, the researchers visited households within the cells, making sure that they visited 50 people aged over 50 y within each cell. They followed a standard procedure for collecting information from each person included in the survey. Each individual was examined by a nurse to measure their clearness of sight (“visual acuity”), using a Snellen chart (a chart with several rows of letters, where the size of the letters gets smaller as you go down the rows). The people being surveyed were examined by an ophthalmologist and the main cause of blindness was recorded, as well as general information on age, sex, details of any cataract operations, and why a cataract operation had not been done if one was needed.
Around 2 million people live in Western Province. The researchers included 2,250 people in the survey, for whom detailed examinations were done for 2,206 survey participants. Overall, 1.8% of the individuals examined were blind in both eyes. The main causes of blindness in the individuals surveyed were avoidable, and included cataract (clouding of the lens), focusing problems, and scarring of the cornea. Although 65% of cases of blindness were caused by cataract, and the availability of cataract surgery for those who needed it was reasonable, the outcomes of surgery were judged to be poor.
What Do These Findings Mean?
>The overall proportion of individuals in this survey who were found to be blind was quite low—1.8% instead of the expected prevalence of 9%. The researchers estimated that the overall proportion of blind people in all age groups in this region of Rwanda would be around 0.2%, and they calculated that 365 cataract surgeries would be needed in the region every year to meet international targets for correcting cataracts. It is not clear why the prevalence of blindness was lower than expected in this survey; one factor might be the low proportion of people in the 50 y age group in the Rwandan population. However, this survey suggests that most of the cases of blindness in this population are avoidable, and the data produced here are important in planning future eye care services within Rwanda.
PLoS Medicine, as a leading general medical journal, would not usually publish the results of a survey of blindness (or any other medical condition) in just one part of one country. The editors felt this one was of particular interest for several reasons. There has previously been very little information about blindness prevalence in Rwanda. The idea of Rapid Assessment of Avoidable Blindness (RAAB) is also fairly new. Furthermore, the results are a striking contrast with what was found in two studies that we recently published from the southern Sudan (see below for references), another part of Africa that has experienced devastating conflict. The Sudan studies found a very much higher prevalence of blindness. However, it must be noted that the fighting in the Sudan continued over a much longer period (several decades) and the Sudanese environment is different in many respects; for example, it is much drier (which raises the risk of blindness due to trachoma) and many people live in extremely remote locations.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0040217
World Health Organization Health Topics maintains a minisite on blindness that includes links to fact sheets, statistics, official publications, and other information
Wikipedia has an entry on visual acuity (clearness of sight), including details of how acuity is measured (note: Wikipedia is an internet encyclopedia anyone can edit)
The World Health Organization publishes detailed country health profiles, including one for Rwanda (click on the relevant country name to download a PDF fact sheet)
VISION 2020 is a global initiative aiming to eliminate avoidable blindness by the year 2020. Its Web site provides information on the main causes of avoidable blindness
Two papers recently published in PLoS Medicine about blindness in the war-afflicted southern Sudan dealt with overall blindness prevalence (Ngondi J, Ole-Sempele F, Onsarigo A, Matende I, Baba S, et al. [2006] Prevalence and causes of blindness and low vision in southern Sudan. PLoS Med 3: e477) and blindness due to trachoma (Ngondi J, Ole-Sempele F, Onsarigo A, Matende I, Baba S, et al. [2006] Blinding trachoma in postconflict southern Sudan. PLoS Med 3: e478)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0040217
PMCID: PMC1904464  PMID: 17608561
6.  Vulnerability to winter mortality in elderly people in Britain: population based study 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2004;329(7467):647.
Objective To examine the determinants of vulnerability to winter mortality in elderly British people.
Design Population based cohort study (119 389 person years of follow up).
Setting 106 general practices from the Medical Research Council trial of assessment and management of older people in Britain.
Participants People aged ≥ 75 years.
Main outcome measures Mortality (10 123 deaths) determined by follow up through the Office for National Statistics.
Results Month to month variation accounted for 17% of annual all cause mortality, but only 7.8% after adjustment for temperature. The overall winter:non-winter rate ratio was 1.31 (95% confidence interval 1.26 to 1.36). There was little evidence that this ratio varied by geographical region, age, or any of the personal, socioeconomic, or clinical factors examined, with two exceptions: after adjustment for all major covariates the winter:non-winter ratio in women compared with men was 1.11 (1.00 to 1.23), and those with a self reported history of respiratory illness had a winter:non-winter ratio of 1.20 (1.08 to 1.34) times that of people without a history of respiratory illness. There was no evidence that socioeconomic deprivation or self reported financial worries were predictive of winter death.
Conclusion Except for female sex and pre-existing respiratory illness, there was little evidence for vulnerability to winter death associated with factors thought to lead to vulnerability. The lack of socioeconomic gradient suggests that policies aimed at relief of fuel poverty may need to be supplemented by additional measures to tackle the burden of excess winter deaths in elderly people.
doi:10.1136/bmj.38167.589907.55
PMCID: PMC517639  PMID: 15315961
7.  Prevalence of Age-Related Macular Degeneration in Nakuru, Kenya: A Cross-Sectional Population-Based Study 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(2):e1001393.
Using digital retinal photography and slit lamp examination in a population-based sample in the Nakuru District of Kenya, Andrew Bastawrous and colleagues determined the prevalence of age-related macular degeneration in adults 50 years and older.
Background
Diseases of the posterior segment of the eye, including age-related macular degeneration (AMD), have recently been recognised as the leading or second leading cause of blindness in several African countries. However, prevalence of AMD alone has not been assessed. We hypothesized that AMD is an important cause of visual impairment among elderly people in Nakuru, Kenya, and therefore sought to assess the prevalence and predictors of AMD in a diverse adult Kenyan population.
Methods and Findings
In a population-based cross-sectional survey in the Nakuru District of Kenya, 100 clusters of 50 people 50 y of age or older were selected by probability-proportional-to-size sampling between 26 January 2007 and 11 November 2008. Households within clusters were selected through compact segment sampling.
All participants underwent a standardised interview and comprehensive eye examination, including dilated slit lamp examination by an ophthalmologist and digital retinal photography. Images were graded for the presence and severity of AMD lesions following a modified version of the International Classification and Grading System for Age-Related Maculopathy. Comparison was made between slit lamp biomicroscopy (SLB) and photographic grading.
Of 4,381 participants, fundus photographs were gradable for 3,304 persons (75.4%), and SLB was completed for 4,312 (98%). Early and late AMD prevalence were 11.2% and 1.2%, respectively, among participants graded on images. Prevalence of AMD by SLB was 6.7% and 0.7% for early and late AMD, respectively. SLB underdiagnosed AMD relative to photographic grading by a factor of 1.7.
After controlling for age, women had a higher prevalence of early AMD than men (odds ratio 1.5; 95% CI, 1.2–1.9). Overall prevalence rose significantly with each decade of age. We estimate that, in Kenya, 283,900 to 362,800 people 50 y and older have early AMD and 25,200 to 50,500 have late AMD, based on population estimates in 2007.
Conclusions
AMD is an important cause of visual impairment and blindness in Kenya. Greater availability of low vision services and ophthalmologist training in diagnosis and treatment of AMD would be appropriate next steps.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Worldwide, 39 million people are blind, and 246 million people (mainly living in developing countries) have moderate or severe visual impairment. The third leading global cause of blindness (after cataracts and glaucoma) is age-related macular degeneration (AMD). This group of conditions is characterized by lesions in the macular (central) region of the retina, the tissue at the back of the eye that converts light into electrical messages and sends them to the brain. AMD, which affects older people, destroys the sharp central vision that is needed for reading or driving, leaving only dim, blurred images or a black hole at the center of vision. AMD can be diagnosed by examining digital photographs of the retina or by examining the retina directly using a special magnifying lens (slit lamp biomicroscopy). There is no cure for AMD, although injections into the eye of certain drugs, such as bevacizumab, that block the activity of vascular endothelial growth factor can slow the rate of vision loss caused by some forms of AMD.
Why Was This Study Done?
Most investigations of the prevalence (the proportion of a population with a disease) of AMD and of risk factors for AMD have studied people with European or Asian ancestry. Very little is known about AMD in African populations, and the data that are available mainly come from African populations living outside Africa. It is important to know whether AMD is an important cause of visual impairment and blindness in Africa, so that informed decisions can be made about the need for AMD programs in African countries. In this cross-sectional population-based study, the researchers investigate the prevalence of AMD among people aged 50 years or older living in Nakuru District (an ethnically diverse region of Kenya) and look for predictors of AMD in this population. In a cross-sectional population-based study, researchers observe a representative subset of a population at a single time point.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers randomly selected 100 clusters of 50 people aged 50 years or older for their study. Between January 2007 and November 2008, study participants had a comprehensive eye examination and completed a standardized interview that included questions about their age, gender, other demographic details, medical history, and exposure to possible risk factors for AMD. Based on digital retinal images, the prevalences of early and late AMD among the study population were 11.2% and 1.2%, respectively. The prevalences of early and late AMD judged by slit lamp biomicroscopy were 6.7% and 0.7%, respectively. After controlling for age, women had a higher prevalence of both early and late AMD than men. The overall prevalence of AMD rose with age: compared to the youngest age group, the oldest age group had a three-fold higher risk of developing late AMD. Of the people with any grade of AMD, 25.6% had some visual impairment and 2.5% were blind. Overall, 9.9% of the blindness seen in the study was attributable to AMD.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings identify AMD as an important cause of visual impairment and blindness in Nakuru District, Kenya. Extrapolation of these findings to the whole of Kenya suggests that 283,900 to 362,800 Kenyans had early AMD and 25,200 to 50,500 had late AMD in 2007. The accuracy of these findings is limited by the inability to obtain digital retinal images from all the participants (often because of electricity failures) and by other aspects of the study design. Moreover, because the methodology used in this study differed from some other studies of AMD, the prevalence of AMD reported here cannot be compared directly to those found in other studies. Nevertheless, these findings have several important implications. In particular, although recent evidence suggests that bevacizumab is likely to be both effective and affordable in Africa, the infrastructure required to deliver an adequate AMD service is currently prohibitively expensive in most African countries. Thus, these findings suggest that it is essential that research is undertaken to support the development of AMD treatment programs that are affordable and deliverable in Africa, and that low vision resources are provided for individuals with vision impairment.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001393.
The US National Eye Institute provides detailed information about age-related macular degeneration
The UK National Health Service Choices website also provides information about age-related macular degeneration, including personal stories about the condition
The UK Royal National Institute of Blind People has information on age-related macular degeneration, including a video of a person describing their experiences of the condition
AMD Alliance International provides written and audio information in several languages about age-related macular degeneration, including a large selection of personal stories; the Macular Degeneration Partnership also provides information about age-related macular degeneration, including a simulation of the condition
MedlinePlus has links to additional resources about age-related macular degeneration (in English and Spanish)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001393
PMCID: PMC3576379  PMID: 23431274
8.  Alcohol Sales and Risk of Serious Assault 
PLoS Medicine  2008;5(5):e104.
Background
Alcohol is a contributing cause of unintentional injuries, such as motor vehicle crashes. Prior research on the association between alcohol use and violent injury was limited to survey-based data, and the inclusion of cases from a single trauma centre, without adequate controls. Beyond these limitations was the inability of prior researchers to comprehensively capture most alcohol sales. In Ontario, most alcohol is sold through retail outlets run by the provincial government, and hospitals are financed under a provincial health care system. We assessed the risk of being hospitalized due to assault in association with retail alcohol sales across Ontario.
Methods and Findings
We performed a population-based case-crossover analysis of all persons aged 13 years and older hospitalized for assault in Ontario from 1 April 2002 to 1 December 2004. On the day prior to each assault case's hospitalization, the volume of alcohol sold at the store in closest proximity to the victim's home was compared to the volume of alcohol sold at the same store 7 d earlier. Conditional logistic regression analysis was used to determine the associated relative risk (RR) of assault per 1,000 l higher daily sales of alcohol. Of the 3,212 persons admitted to hospital for assault, nearly 25% were between the ages of 13 and 20 y, and 83% were male. A total of 1,150 assaults (36%) involved the use of a sharp or blunt weapon, and 1,532 (48%) arose during an unarmed brawl or fight. For every 1,000 l more of alcohol sold per store per day, the relative risk of being hospitalized for assault was 1.13 (95% confidence interval [CI] 1.02–1.26). The risk was accentuated for males (1.18, 95% CI 1.05–1.33), youth aged 13 to 20 y (1.21, 95% CI 0.99–1.46), and those in urban areas (1.19, 95% CI 1.06–1.35).
Conclusions
The risk of being a victim of serious assault increases with alcohol sales, especially among young urban men. Akin to reducing the risk of driving while impaired, consideration should be given to novel methods of preventing alcohol-related violence.
In a population-based case-crossover analysis, Joel Ray and colleagues find that the risk of being a victim of serious assault increases with retail alcohol sales, especially among young urban men.
Editors' Summary
Background.
Alcohol has been produced and consumed around the world since prehistoric times. In the Western world it is now the most commonly consumed psychoactive drug (a substance that changes mood, behavior, and thought processes). The World Health Organization reports that there are 76.3 million persons with alcohol use disorders worldwide. Alcohol consumption is an important factor in unintentional injuries, such as motor vehicle crashes, and in violent criminal behavior. In the United Kingdom, for example, a higher proportion of heavy drinkers than light drinkers cause violent criminal offenses. Other figures suggest that people (in particular, young men) have an increased risk of committing a criminally violent offense within 24 h of drinking alcohol. There is also some evidence that suggests that the victims as well as the perpetrators of assaults have often been drinking recently, possibly because alcohol impairs the victim's ability to judge potentially explosive situations.
Why Was This Study Done?
The researchers wanted to know more about the relationship between alcohol and intentional violence. The recognition of a clear link between driving when impaired by alcohol and motor vehicle crashes has led many countries to introduce public awareness programs that stigmatize drunk driving. If a clear link between alcohol consumption by the people involved in violent crime could also be established, similar programs might reduce alcohol-related assaults. The researchers tested the hypothesis that the risk of being hospitalized due to a violent assault increases when there are increased alcohol sales in the immediate vicinity of the victim's place of residence.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers did their study in Ontario, Canada for three reasons. First, Ontario is Canada's largest province. Second, the province keeps detailed computerized medical records, including records of people hospitalized from being violently assaulted. Third, most alcohol is sold in government-run shops, and the district has the infrastructure to allow daily alcohol sales to be tracked. The researchers identified more than 3,000 people over the age of 13 y who were hospitalized in the province because of a serious assault during a 32-mo period. They compared the volume of alcohol sold at the liquor store nearest to the victim's home the day before the assault with the volume sold at the same store a week earlier (this type of study is called a “case-crossover” study). For every extra 1,000 l of alcohol sold per store per day (a doubling of alcohol sales), the overall risk of being hospitalized for assault increased by 13%. The risk was highest in three subgroups of people: men (18% increased risk), youths aged 13 to 20 y (21% increased risk), and those living in urban areas (19% increased risk). At peak times of alcohol sales, the risk of assault was 41% higher than at times when alcohol sales were lowest.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that the risk of being seriously assaulted increases with the amount of alcohol sold locally the day before the assault and show that the individuals most at risk are young men living in urban areas. Because the study considers only serious assaults and alcohol sold in shops (i.e., not including alcohol sold in bars), it probably underestimates the association between alcohol and assault. It also does not indicate whether the victim or perpetrator of the assault (or both) had been drinking, and its findings may not apply to countries with different drinking habits. Nevertheless, these findings support the idea that the consumption of alcohol contributes to the occurrence of medical injuries from intentional violence. Increasing the price of alcohol or making alcohol harder to obtain might help to reduce the occurrence of alcohol-related assaults. The researchers suggest that a particularly effective approach may be to stigmatize alcohol-related brawling, analogous to the way that driving under the influence of alcohol has been made socially unacceptable.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0050104.
This study is further discussed in a PLoS Medicine Perspective by Bennetts and Seabrook
The US National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism provides information on all aspects of alcohol abuse, including an article on alcohol use and violence among young adults
Alcohol-related assault is examined in the British Crime Survey
Alcohol Concern, the UK national agency on alcohol misuse, provides fact sheets on the health impacts of alcohol, young people's drinking, and alcohol and crime
The Canadian Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto provides information about alcohol addiction (in English and French)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0050104
PMCID: PMC2375945  PMID: 18479181
9.  Socio-economic- and sex-related disparities in rates of hospital admission among patients with HIV infection in Ontario: a population-based study 
Open Medicine  2012;6(4):e146-e154.
Background
Among people living with HIV infection in the era of combination antiretroviral therapy (cART), admission to hospital may indicate inadequate community-based care. As such, population-based assessments of the utilization of inpatient services represent a necessary component of evaluating the quality of HIV-related care.
Methods
We used a validated algorithm to search Ontario’s administrative health care databases for all persons living with HIV infection aged 18 years or older between 1992/93 and 2008/09. We then conducted a population-based study using time-series and longitudinal analyses to first quantify the immediate effect of cART on hospital admission rates and then analyze recent trends (for 2002/03 to 2008/09) in rates of total and HIV-related admissions.
Results
The introduction of cART in 1996/97 was associated with more pronounced reductions in the rate of hospital admissions among men than among women (for total admissions, –89.9 v. –60.5 per 1000 persons living with HIV infection, p = 0.003; for HIV-related admissions, –56.9 v. –36.3 per 1000 persons living with HIV infection, p < 0.001). Between 2002/03 and 2008/09, higher rates of total hospital admissions were associated with female sex (adjusted relative rate [RR] 1.15, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.05–1.27) and low socio-economic status (adjusted RR 1.21, 95% CI 1.14–1.29). Higher rates of HIV-related hospital admission were associated with low socio-economic status (adjusted RR 1.30, 95% CI 1.17–1.45). Recent immigrants had lower rates of both total admissions (adjusted RR 0.70, 95% CI 0.61–0.80) and HIV-related admissions (adjusted RR 0.77, 95% CI 0.61–0.96).
Interpretation
We observed important socio-economic- and sex-related disparities in rates of hospital admission among people with HIV living in Ontario, Canada.
PMCID: PMC3654511  PMID: 23687530
10.  Decline in Diarrhea Mortality and Admissions after Routine Childhood Rotavirus Immunization in Brazil: A Time-Series Analysis 
PLoS Medicine  2011;8(4):e1001024.
A time series analysis by Manish Patel and colleagues shows that the introduction of rotavirus vaccination in Brazil is associated with reduced diarrhea-related deaths and hospital admissions in children under 5 years of age.
Background
In 2006, Brazil began routine immunization of infants <15 wk of age with a single-strain rotavirus vaccine. We evaluated whether the rotavirus vaccination program was associated with declines in childhood diarrhea deaths and hospital admissions by monitoring disease trends before and after vaccine introduction in all five regions of Brazil with varying disease burden and distinct socioeconomic and health indicators.
Methods and Findings
National data were analyzed with an interrupted time-series analysis that used diarrhea-related mortality or hospitalization rates as the main outcomes. Monthly mortality and admission rates estimated for the years after rotavirus vaccination (2007–2009) were compared with expected rates calculated from pre-vaccine years (2002–2005), adjusting for secular and seasonal trends. During the three years following rotavirus vaccination in Brazil, rates for diarrhea-related mortality and admissions among children <5 y of age were 22% (95% confidence interval 6%–44%) and 17% (95% confidence interval 5%–27%) lower than expected, respectively. A cumulative total of ∼1,500 fewer diarrhea deaths and 130,000 fewer admissions were observed among children <5 y during the three years after rotavirus vaccination. The largest reductions in deaths (22%–28%) and admissions (21%–25%) were among children younger than 2 y, who had the highest rates of vaccination. In contrast, lower reductions in deaths (4%) and admissions (7%) were noted among children two years of age and older, who were not age-eligible for vaccination during the study period.
Conclusions
After the introduction of rotavirus vaccination for infants, significant declines for three full years were observed in under-5-y diarrhea-related mortality and hospital admissions for diarrhea in Brazil. The largest reductions in diarrhea-related mortality and hospital admissions for diarrhea were among children younger than 2 y, who were eligible for vaccination as infants, which suggests that the reduced diarrhea burden in this age group was associated with introduction of the rotavirus vaccine. These real-world data are consistent with evidence obtained from clinical trials and strengthen the evidence base for the introduction of rotavirus vaccination as an effective measure for controlling severe and fatal childhood diarrhea.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Diarrheal disease, usually caused by infectious agents, is the second major cause of death in children aged under five years. As highlighted in a recent PLoS Medicine series, access to clean water and improved sanitation is the key to the primary prevention of diarrheal illnesses. Yet despite the targets of Millennium Development Goal 7 to half the number of people without access to clean water or improved sanitation by 2015, over one billion people worldwide do not currently have access to clean water and over two billion do not currently have access to improved sanitation.
Since enteric viruses are primarily transmitted directly from one person to another, they cannot be controlled completely by improvements in sanitation. Therefore, although not replacing the urgent need to provide access to clean water and improved sanitation for all, vaccination programs that protect young children against some infections that cause diarrhea, such as rotavirus, which accounts for one-third of all child deaths caused by diarrhea, are a pragmatic way forward. As large clinical trials have shown the safety and efficacy of rotavirus vaccines in population settings, in July 2009, the World Health Organization recommended including rotavirus vaccines into every country's national immunization programs.
Why Was This Study Done?
Although the protective effect of rotavirus vaccines has been assessed in various high-, middle-, and low-income settings, for reasons that remain unclear, the efficacy of live, oral rotavirus vaccines appears to be dependent on geographical location and correlated to the socioeconomic status of the population. Because of these concerns, evaluating the health impact of large-scale rotavirus vaccine programs and ensuring their equity in a real-world setting (rather than in clinical trial conditions) is important.
Therefore, the researchers addressed this issue by conducting this study to evaluate the effect of rotavirus vaccination on mortality and hospital admissions for diarrhea due to all causes among young children in the five regions of Brazil. The researchers chose to do this study in Brazil because of the high incidence of diarrhea-related deaths and hospital admissions and because five years ago, in July 2006, the Brazilian Ministry of Health introduced the single-strain rotavirus vaccine simultaneously in all 27 states through its national immunization program—allowing for “before” and “after” intervention analysis.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers obtained data on diarrheal deaths and hospital admissions in children aged under five years for the period 2002–2005 and 2007–2009 and data on rotavirus vaccination rates. The researchers got the data on diarrhea deaths from the Brazilian Mortality Information System—the national database of information collected from death certificates that covers 90% of all deaths in Brazil. The data on hospital admissions came from the electronic Hospital Information System of Brazil's Unified Health System (Sistema Unico de Saúde, SUS)—the publicly funded health-care system that covers roughly 70% of the hospitalizations and includes information on all admissions (from public hospitals and some private hospitals) authorized for payment by the Unified Health System. The researchers got regional rotavirus vaccination coverage estimates for 2007–2009 from the information department of the Ministry of Health, and estimated coverage of the two doses of oral rotavirus vaccine by taking the annual number of second doses administered divided by the number of infants in the region.
In 2007, an estimated 80% of infants received two doses of rotavirus vaccine, and by 2009, this proportion rose to 84% of children younger than one year of age. The researchers found that in the three years following the introduction of rotavirus vaccination, diarrhea-related mortality rates and admissions among children aged under five years were respectively 22% and 17% lower than expected, with a cumulative total of 1,500 fewer diarrhea deaths and 130,000 fewer admissions. Furthermore, the largest reductions in deaths and admissions were among children who had the highest rates of vaccination (less than two years of age), and the lowest reductions were among children who were not eligible for vaccination during the study period (aged 2–4 years).
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that the introduction of rotavirus vaccination in all areas of Brazil is associated with reduced diarrhea-related deaths and hospital admissions in children aged under five years. These real-world impact data are consistent with the clinical trials and strengthen the evidence base for rotavirus vaccination as an effective measure for controlling severe and fatal childhood diarrhea.
These findings have important global policy implications. In middle-income countries, such as Brazil, that are not eligible for financial support from donors, the potential reductions in admissions and other health-care costs will be important for cost-effectiveness considerations to justify the purchase of these still relatively expensive vaccines.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001024
PLoS Medicine has published a series on water and sanitation
More information is available from the World Health Organization on diarrheal illness in children
More information is available about rotavirus vaccines from the World Health Organization, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Rotavirus Vaccine Program
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001024
PMCID: PMC3079643  PMID: 21526228
11.  Risk of Cardiovascular Disease and Total Mortality in Adults with Type 1 Diabetes: Scottish Registry Linkage Study 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(10):e1001321.
Helen Colhoun and colleagues report findings from a Scottish registry linkage study regarding contemporary risks for cardiovascular events and all-cause mortality among individuals diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.
Background
Randomized controlled trials have shown the importance of tight glucose control in type 1 diabetes (T1DM), but few recent studies have evaluated the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and all-cause mortality among adults with T1DM. We evaluated these risks in adults with T1DM compared with the non-diabetic population in a nationwide study from Scotland and examined control of CVD risk factors in those with T1DM.
Methods and Findings
The Scottish Care Information-Diabetes Collaboration database was used to identify all people registered with T1DM and aged ≥20 years in 2005–2007 and to provide risk factor data. Major CVD events and deaths were obtained from the national hospital admissions database and death register. The age-adjusted incidence rate ratio (IRR) for CVD and mortality in T1DM (n = 21,789) versus the non-diabetic population (3.96 million) was estimated using Poisson regression. The age-adjusted IRR for first CVD event associated with T1DM versus the non-diabetic population was higher in women (3.0: 95% CI 2.4–3.8, p<0.001) than men (2.3: 2.0–2.7, p<0.001) while the IRR for all-cause mortality associated with T1DM was comparable at 2.6 (2.2–3.0, p<0.001) in men and 2.7 (2.2–3.4, p<0.001) in women. Between 2005–2007, among individuals with T1DM, 34 of 123 deaths among 10,173 who were <40 years and 37 of 907 deaths among 12,739 who were ≥40 years had an underlying cause of death of coma or diabetic ketoacidosis. Among individuals 60–69 years, approximately three extra deaths per 100 per year occurred among men with T1DM (28.51/1,000 person years at risk), and two per 100 per year for women (17.99/1,000 person years at risk). 28% of those with T1DM were current smokers, 13% achieved target HbA1c of <7% and 37% had very poor (≥9%) glycaemic control. Among those aged ≥40, 37% had blood pressures above even conservative targets (≥140/90 mmHg) and 39% of those ≥40 years were not on a statin. Although many of these risk factors were comparable to those previously reported in other developed countries, CVD and mortality rates may not be generalizable to other countries. Limitations included lack of information on the specific insulin therapy used.
Conclusions
Although the relative risks for CVD and total mortality associated with T1DM in this population have declined relative to earlier studies, T1DM continues to be associated with higher CVD and death rates than the non-diabetic population. Risk factor management should be improved to further reduce risk but better treatment approaches for achieving good glycaemic control are badly needed.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background. People with diabetes are more likely to have cardiovascular disease such as heart attacks and strokes. They also have a higher risk of dying prematurely from any cause. Controlling blood sugar (glucose), blood pressure, and cholesterol can help reduce these risks. Some people with type 1 diabetes can achieve tight blood glucose control through a strict regimen that includes a carefully calculated diet, frequent physical activity, regular blood glucose testing several times a day, and multiple daily doses of insulin. Other drugs can reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Keeping one's weight in the normal range and not smoking are important ways in which all people, including those with type 1 diabetes can reduce their risks of heart disease and premature death.
Why Was This Study Done? Researchers and doctors have known for almost two decades what patients with type 1 diabetes can do to minimize the complications from the disease and thereby reduce their risks for cardiovascular disease and early death. So for some time now, patients should have been treated and counseled accordingly. This study was done to evaluate the current risks for have cardiovascular disease and premature death amongst people living with type 1 diabetes in a high-income country (Scotland).
What Did the Researchers Do and Find? From a national register of all people with type 1 diabetes in Scotland, the researchers selected those who were older than 20 years and alive at any time from January 2005 to May 2008. This included about 19,000 people who had been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes before 2005. Another 2,600 were diagnosed between 2005 and 2008. They also obtained data on heart attacks and strokes in these patients from hospital records and on deaths from the natural death register. To obtain a good picture of the current relative risks, they compared the patients with type 1 diabetes with the non-diabetic general Scottish population with regard to the risk of heart attacks/strokes and death from all causes. They also collected information on how well the people with diabetes controlled their blood glucose, on their weight, and whether they smoked.
They found that the current risks compared with the general Scottish population are quite a bit lower than those of people with type 1 diabetes in earlier decades. However, people with type 1 diabetes in Scotland still have much higher (more than twice) the risk of heart attacks, strokes, or premature death than the general population. Moreover, the researchers found a high number of deaths in younger people with diabetes from coma—caused by either too much blood sugar (hyperglycemia) or too little (hypoglycemia). Severe hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia happen when blood glucose control is poor. When the scientists looked at test results for HbA1c levels (a test that is done once or twice a year to see how well patients controlled their blood sugar over the previous 3 months) for all patients, they found that the majority of them did not come close to controlling their blood glucose within the recommended range.
When the researchers compared body mass index (a measure of weight that takes height into account) and smoking between the people with type 1 diabetes and the general population, they found similar proportions of smokers and overweight or obese people.
What Do these Findings Mean? The results represent a snapshot of the recent situation regarding complications from type 1 diabetes in the Scottish population. The results suggest that within this population, strategies over the past two decades to reduce complications from type 1 diabetes that cause cardiovascular disease and death are working, in principle. However, there is much need for further improvement. This includes the urgent need to understand why so few people with type 1 diabetes achieve good control of their blood sugar, and what can be done to improve this situation. It is also important to put more effort into keeping people with diabetes from taking up smoking or getting them to quit, as well as preventing them from getting overweight or promoting weight reduction, because this could further reduce the risks of cardiovascular disease and premature death.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001321
National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse, a service of the US National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, has information on heart disease and diabetes, on general complications of diabetes, and on the HbA1c test (on this site and some others called A1C test) that measures control of blood sugar over the past 3 months
Diabetes.co.uk provides general information on type 1 diabetes, its complications, and what people with the disease can do to reduce their risks
The Canadian Diabetes Association offers a cardiovascular risk self-assessment tool and other relevant information
The American Diabetes Association has information on the benefits and challenges of tight blood sugar control and how it is tested
The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation funds research to prevent, cure, and treat type 1 diabetes
Diabetes UK provides extensive information on diabetes for patients, carers, and clinicians
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001321
PMCID: PMC3462745  PMID: 23055834
12.  Prevalence and Causes of Blindness and Low Vision in Southern Sudan  
PLoS Medicine  2006;3(12):e477.
Background
Blindness and low vision are thought to be common in southern Sudan. However, the magnitude and geographical distribution are largely unknown. We aimed to estimate the prevalence of blindness and low vision, identify the main causes of blindness and low vision, and estimate targets for blindness prevention programs in Mankien payam (district), southern Sudan.
Methods and Findings
A cross-sectional survey of the population aged 5 y and above was conducted in May 2005 using a two-stage cluster random sampling with probability proportional to size. The Snellen E chart was used to test visual acuity, and participants also underwent basic eye examination. Vision status was defined using World Health Organization categories of visual impairment based on presenting visual acuity (VA). A total of 2,954 persons were enumerated and 2,499 (84.6%) examined. Prevalence of blindness (presenting VA of less than 3/60 in the better eye) was 4.1% (95% confidence interval [CI], 3.4–4.8); prevalence of low vision (presenting VA of at least 3/60 but less than 18/60 in the better eye) was 7.7% (95% CI, 6.7–8.7); whereas prevalence of monocular visual impairment (presenting VA of at least 18/60 in better eye and VA of less than 18/60 in other eye) was 4.4% (95% CI, 3.6–5.3). The main causes of blindness were considered to be cataract (41.2%) and trachoma (35.3%), whereas low vision was mainly caused by trachoma (58.1%) and cataract (29.3%). It is estimated that in Mankien payam 1,154 persons aged 5 y and above (lower and upper bounds = 782–1,799) are blind, and 2,291 persons (lower and upper bounds = 1,820–2,898) have low vision.
Conclusions
Blindness is a serious public health problem in Mankien, and there is urgent need to implement comprehensive blindness prevention programs. Further surveys are essential to confirm these tragic findings and estimate prevalence of blindness and low vision in the entire region of southern Sudan in order to facilitate planning of VISION 2020 objectives.
A cross-sectional survey using two-stage cluster random sampling was conducted in Mankien district, southern Sudan. The prevalence of blindness (4.1%) and of low vision (7.7%) were much higher than expected.
Editors' Summary
Background.
Blindness is very common. The World Health Organization says that around 161 million people have at least some degree of “visual impairment,” of whom 37 million are blind. There are many causes of blindness, including infections, malnutrition, injury, and aging. Around 90% of blind people live in developing countries. It is estimated that 75% of the cases of blindness in these countries could have been prevented but, in situations where people are poor and live in remote locations, both prevention and treatment efforts are extremely difficult. In times of war and civil conflict, the problems become even more severe. In these situations, it is very hard even to get an idea of the number of people who are blind. Surveys to find this out are important as a first step toward providing prevention and treatment services. Surveys play an essential part in international efforts to fight blindness.
Why Was This Study Done?
Sudan is the largest country in Africa and one of the poorest in the world. Southern Sudan has spent most of the last five decades in a state of civil war and is a very remote region. The last information collected on the scale of the blindness problem was in the early 1980s. The researchers decided to conduct a survey in Mankien—a district of Sudan with a total population that is estimated to be around 50,000. Their aim was to estimate how many people were blind or had “low vision” and to find out the main causes of blindness. This would be useful in planning a blindness prevention programme for the district. It would also give some idea of the situation in the southern Sudan as a whole.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
Working under very difficult conditions, the researchers selected villages to be visited at random. A house in each village visited was selected by spinning a pen in the middle of the village. The people in this house were examined and then other houses were chosen, also at random. In total, 2499 people were examined. Children under five years were not included in survey.
A very high rate of blindness was found—4%. This is more than twice the level that would be expected, given what is known about the prevalence of blindness in other parts of rural Africa. The two most common causes of blindness and low vision were cataract and trachoma, each accounting for over one-third of cases. Cataract is mainly a disease of older people; the lens of the eye becomes opaque. Trachoma is caused by an infection; it is the subject of another article by the same researchers in this issue of PLoS Medicine. Trachoma was responsible for a greater proportion of cases of blindness than has been found in studies in other parts of rural Africa.
What Do These Findings Mean?
Based on the researchers' use of the random walk survey technique, the prevalence of blindness in this district and possibly the rest of southern Sudan appears to be extremely serious. The number of cases caused by trachoma is especially worrying. This information will help efforts to improve the situation. The implications of the study—and a discussion of the methods the researchers used—will be found in two “Perspective” articles in this issue of PLoS Medicine (by Buchan and by Kuper and Gilbert).
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0030477.
General information about blindness is available on Wikipedia, an internet encyclopedia that anyone can edit
Vision 2020 is a major international initiative to reduce blindness, in which many organizations collaborate
The World Health Organization has a Web page on blindness
Many charities provide help to blind people in developing countries, for example: Sight Savers, Lions Clubs International Foundation, Dark and Light Blind Care
A profile of Sudan will be found on the website of the BBC
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0030477
PMCID: PMC1702554  PMID: 17177596
13.  A randomised controlled trial to prevent hospital readmissions and loss of functional ability in high risk older adults: a study protocol 
Background
Older people have higher rates of hospital admission than the general population and higher rates of readmission due to complications and falls. During hospitalisation, older people experience significant functional decline which impairs their future independence and quality of life. Acute hospital services comprise the largest section of health expenditure in Australia and prevention or delay of disease is known to produce more effective use of services. Current models of discharge planning and follow-up care, however, do not address the need to prevent deconditioning or functional decline. This paper describes the protocol of a randomised controlled trial which aims to evaluate innovative transitional care strategies to reduce unplanned readmissions and improve functional status, independence, and psycho-social well-being of community-based older people at risk of readmission.
Methods/Design
The study is a randomised controlled trial. Within 72 hours of hospital admission, a sample of older adults fitting the inclusion/exclusion criteria (aged 65 years and over, admitted with a medical diagnosis, able to walk independently for 3 meters, and at least one risk factor for readmission) are randomised into one of four groups: 1) the usual care control group, 2) the exercise and in-home/telephone follow-up intervention group, 3) the exercise only intervention group, or 4) the in-home/telephone follow-up only intervention group. The usual care control group receive usual discharge planning provided by the health service. In addition to usual care, the exercise and in-home/telephone follow-up intervention group receive an intervention consisting of a tailored exercise program, in-home visit and 24 week telephone follow-up by a gerontic nurse. The exercise only and in-home/telephone follow-up only intervention groups, in addition to usual care receive only the exercise or gerontic nurse components of the intervention respectively. Data collection is undertaken at baseline within 72 hours of hospital admission, 4 weeks following hospital discharge, 12 weeks following hospital discharge, and 24 weeks following hospital discharge. Outcome assessors are blinded to group allocation. Primary outcomes are emergency hospital readmissions and health service use, functional status, psychosocial well-being and cost effectiveness.
Discussion
The acute hospital sector comprises the largest component of health care system expenditure in developed countries, and older adults are the most frequent consumers. There are few trials to demonstrate effective models of transitional care to prevent emergency readmissions, loss of functional ability and independence in this population following an acute hospital admission. This study aims to address that gap and provide information for future health service planning which meets client needs and lowers the use of acute care services.
Trial Registration No
Australian & New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry ACTRN12608000202369
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-11-202
PMCID: PMC3224378  PMID: 21861920
Older adults; discharge planning; in-home follow-up; telephone follow-up; exercise; randomised control trial
14.  Improving cardiovascular health at population level: 39 community cluster randomised trial of Cardiovascular Health Awareness Program (CHAP) 
Objective To evaluate the effectiveness of the community based Cardiovascular Health Awareness Program (CHAP) on morbidity from cardiovascular disease.
Design Community cluster randomised trial.
Setting 39 mid-sized communities in Ontario, Canada, stratified by location and population size.
Participants Community dwelling residents aged 65 years or over, family physicians, pharmacists, volunteers, community nurses, and local lead organisations.
Intervention Communities were randomised to receive CHAP (n=20) or no intervention (n=19). In CHAP communities, residents aged 65 or over were invited to attend volunteer run cardiovascular risk assessment and education sessions held in community based pharmacies over a 10 week period; automated blood pressure readings and self reported risk factor data were collected and shared with participants and their family physicians and pharmacists.
Main outcome measure Composite of hospital admissions for acute myocardial infarction, stroke, and congestive heart failure among all community residents aged 65 and over in the year before compared with the year after implementation of CHAP.
Results All 20 intervention communities successfully implemented CHAP. A total of 1265 three hour long sessions were held in 129/145 (89%) pharmacies during the 10 week programme. 15 889 unique participants had a total of 27 358 cardiovascular assessments with the assistance of 577 peer volunteers. After adjustment for hospital admission rates in the year before the intervention, CHAP was associated with a 9% relative reduction in the composite end point (rate ratio 0.91, 95% confidence interval 0.86 to 0.97; P=0.002) or 3.02 fewer annual hospital admissions for cardiovascular disease per 1000 people aged 65 and over. Statistically significant reductions favouring the intervention communities were seen in hospital admissions for acute myocardial infarction (rate ratio 0.87, 0.79 to 0.97; P=0.008) and congestive heart failure (0.90, 0.81 to 0.99; P=0.029) but not for stroke (0.99, 0.88 to 1.12; P=0.89).
Conclusions A collaborative, multi-pronged, community based health promotion and prevention programme targeted at older adults can reduce cardiovascular morbidity at the population level.
Trial registration Current controlled trials ISRCTN50550004.
doi:10.1136/bmj.d442
PMCID: PMC3034422  PMID: 21300712
15.  Road Trauma in Teenage Male Youth with Childhood Disruptive Behavior Disorders: A Population Based Analysis 
PLoS Medicine  2010;7(11):e1000369.
Donald Redelmeier and colleagues conducted a population-based case-control study of 16-19-year-old males hospitalized for road trauma or appendicitis and showed that disruptive behavior disorders explained a significant amount of road trauma in this group.
Background
Teenage male drivers contribute to a large number of serious road crashes despite low rates of driving and excellent physical health. We examined the amount of road trauma involving teenage male youth that might be explained by prior disruptive behavior disorders (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, conduct disorder, oppositional defiant disorder).
Methods and Findings
We conducted a population-based case-control study of consecutive male youth between age 16 and 19 years hospitalized for road trauma (cases) or appendicitis (controls) in Ontario, Canada over 7 years (April 1, 2002 through March 31, 2009). Using universal health care databases, we identified prior psychiatric diagnoses for each individual during the decade before admission. Overall, a total of 3,421 patients were admitted for road trauma (cases) and 3,812 for appendicitis (controls). A history of disruptive behavior disorders was significantly more frequent among trauma patients than controls (767 of 3,421 versus 664 of 3,812), equal to a one-third increase in the relative risk of road trauma (odds ratio  =  1.37, 95% confidence interval 1.22–1.54, p<0.001). The risk was evident over a range of settings and after adjustment for measured confounders (odds ratio 1.38, 95% confidence interval 1.21–1.56, p<0.001). The risk explained about one-in-20 crashes, was apparent years before the event, extended to those who died, and persisted among those involved as pedestrians.
Conclusions
Disruptive behavior disorders explain a significant amount of road trauma in teenage male youth. Programs addressing such disorders should be considered to prevent injuries.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
In the latest World Health Organization (WHO) global burden of disease list, road traffic crashes are currently ranked eighth but are predicted to take fourth place by 2030 (by which time, road traffic deaths are likely to increase by more than 80% in developing countries and to decrease by nearly 30% in industrialized countries.) Every year, road traffic crashes kill an estimated 1.2 million people world-wide and injure or disable a further 20–60 million. Furthermore, the economic consequences of road traffic crashes account for about 2% of the gross national product of the entire global economy.
90% of road traffic deaths occur in developing countries where pedestrians, cyclists, and users of two-wheel vehicles (scooters, motorbikes) are the most vulnerable. In industrialized countries, teenage male drivers are the single most risky demographic group, with an incidence of road traffic crashes of twice that of the population average. Also, male teenagers are sometimes a hazard to other road users and contribute to more fatalities in older pedestrians than older drivers. Furthermore, teenage male drivers involved in serious crashes can have ongoing health care needs but are often resistant to standard road safety advice.
Why Was This Study Done?
Previous studies have suggested that disruptive behavior disorders might contribute to the risk of road traffic crashes in male teenagers but methodological problems with these studies make these results unclear. Given the importance of this topic, authorities have called for more research into the full range of behavioral disorders and relevant populations. This study attempted to avoid the methodological problems of previous studies and to rigorously assess whether disruptive behavior disorders predispose male teenagers to road traffic crashes.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers conducted a 7-year population-based case-control study in Ontario, Canada of consecutive male teenagers aged between 16 and 19 years who were admitted to a hospital due to a road traffic crash, including those who were pedestrians. For the controls, the researchers used consecutive males in the same age range who were admitted to the same hospitals during the same time interval for acute appendicitis (which is common and generally unrelated to traumatic injury). For each participant in the study, the authors used universal health care databases in Canada's single-payer health care system to identify relevant psychiatric diagnoses (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, conduct disorder, and oppositional defiant disorder) during the decade before admission.
During the study period, 3,421 male teenagers were admitted to hospital as the result of a road traffic crash and 3,812 male teenagers were admitted to hospital for appendicitis. A history of disruptive behavior disorders was significantly more frequent among male teenagers admitted for road traffic crashes than controls (767 of 3,421 versus 664 of 3,812) giving an odds ratio 1.37. This higher risk was still present after the researchers adjusted for possible confounding factors (such as age, social status, and home location) and accounted for about one-in-20 road traffic crashes, including male teenagers who had died and those involved as pedestrians.
What Do These Findings Mean?
The results of this study suggest that disruptive behavior disorders explain a significant amount of road traffic crashes experienced in male teenagers. Overall, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, conduct disorder, and oppositional defiant disorder are associated with about a one-third increase in the risk of a road traffic crash (which is similar to the relative risk among individuals treated for epilepsy.) As in previous studies in this area, some methodological problems may affect the interpretation of these findings. As this study did not document who was “at fault,” an alternative interpretation might be that behavioral disorders impair a teenager's ability to avoid a mishap initiated by someone else. Most importantly, the observed increase in risk as pedestrians indicates that male teenagers who abstain from driving do not escape the danger of road traffic crashes.
The researchers stress that any increased risk of road traffic crashes associated with disruptive behavior disorders in male teenagers does not justify withholding a driver's license, especially as many such disorders can be effectively treated or, indeed, because it does not address the issue of the increased risk for those teenagers who were pedestrians. Instead, they suggest that disruptive behavior disorders could be considered as contributors to road traffic crashes—analogous to seizure disorders and some other medical diseases. Therefore, greater attention by primary care physicians, psychiatrists, and community health workers might be helpful since interventions can perhaps reduce the risk including medical treatments and avoidance of distractions.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000369.
The World Health Organization has information on road traffic crashes
The US National Institutes of Health has information about behavior disorders in children as well as UK-based Kids Development
The Ontarion Ministry of Transportation has information on annual roadway collisions in Ontario
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000369
PMCID: PMC2981585  PMID: 21125017
16.  Routine Eye Examinations for Persons 20-64 Years of Age 
Executive Summary
Objective
The objective of this analysis was to determine the strength of association between age, gender, ethnicity, family history of disease and refractive error and the risk of developing glaucoma or ARM?
Clinical Need
A routine eye exam serves a primary, secondary, and tertiary care role. In a primary care role, it allows contact with a doctor who can provide advice about eye care, which may reduce the incidence of eye disease and injury. In a secondary care role, it can via a case finding approach, diagnose persons with degenerative eye diseases such as glaucoma and or AMD, and lead to earlier treatment to slow the progression of the disease. Finally in a tertiary care role, it provides ongoing monitoring and treatment to those with diseases associated with vision loss.
Glaucoma is a progressive degenerative disease of the optic nerve, which causes gradual loss of peripheral (side) vision, and in advanced disease states loss of central vision. Blindness may results if glaucoma is not diagnosed and managed. The prevalence of primary open angle glaucoma (POAG) ranges from 1.1% to 3.0% in Western populations, and from 4.2% to 8.8% in populations of African descent. It is estimated up to 50% of people with glaucoma are aware that they have the disease. In Canada, glaucoma disease is the second leading cause of blindness in people aged 50 years and older. Tonometry, inspection of the optic disc and perimetry are used concurrently by physicians and optometrists to make the diagnosis of glaucoma. In general, the evidence shows that treating people with increased IOP only, increased IOP and clinical signs of early glaucoma or with normal-tension glaucoma can reduce the progression of disease.
Age-related maculopathy (ARM) is a degenerative disease of the macula, which is a part of the retina. Damage to the macula causes loss of central vision affecting the ability to read, recognize faces and to move about freely. ARM can be divided into an early- stage (early ARM) and a late-stage (AMD). AMD is the leading cause of blindness in developed countries. The prevalence of AMD increases with increasing age. It is estimated that 1% of people 55 years of age, 5% aged 75 to 84 years and 15% 80 years of age and older have AMD. ARM can be diagnosed during fundoscopy (ophthalmoscopy) which is a visual inspection of the retina by a physician or optometrist, or from a photograph of the retina. There is no cure or prevention for ARM. Likewise, there is currently no treatment to restore vision lost due to AMD. However, there are treatments to delay the progression of the disease and further loss of vision.
The Technology
A periodic oculo-visual assessment is defined “as an examination of the eye and vision system rendered primarily to determine if a patient has a simple refractive error (visual acuity assessment) including myopia, hypermetropia, presbyopia, anisometropia or astigmatism.” This service includes a history of the presenting complaint, past medical history, visual acuity examination, ocular mobility examination, slit lamp examination of the anterior segment, ophthalmoscopy, and tonometry (measurement of IOP) and is completed by either a physician or an optometrist.
Review Strategy
The Medical Advisory Secretariat conducted a computerized search of the literature in the following databases: OVID MEDLINE, MEDLINE, In-Process & Other Non-Indexed Citations, EMBASE, INAHTA and the Cochrane Library. The search was limited to English-language articles with human subjects, published from January 2000 to March 2006. In addition, a search was conducted for published guidelines, health technology assessments, and policy decisions. Bibliographies of references of relevant papers were searched for additional references that may have been missed in the computerized database search. Studies including participants 20 years and older, population-based prospective cohort studies, population-based cross-sectional studies when prospective cohort studies were unavailable or insufficient and studies determining and reporting the strength of association or risk- specific prevalence or incidence rates of either age, gender, ethnicity, refractive error or family history of disease and the risk of developing glaucoma or AMD were included in the review. The Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE) system was used to summarize the overall quality of the body of evidence.
Summary of Findings
A total of 498 citations for the period January 2000 through February 2006 were retrieved and an additional 313 were identified when the search was expanded to include articles published between 1990 and 1999. An additional 6 articles were obtained from bibliographies of relevant articles. Of these, 36 articles were retrieved for further evaluation. Upon review, 1 meta-analysis and 15 population-based epidemiological studies were accepted for this review
Primary Open Angle Glaucoma
Age
Six cross-sectional studies and 1 prospective cohort study contributed data on the association between age and PAOG. From the data it can be concluded that the prevalence and 4-year incidence of POAG increases with increasing age. The odds of having POAG are statistically significantly greater for people 50 years of age and older relative to those 40 to 49 years of age. There is an estimated 7% per year incremental odds of having POAG in persons 40 years of age and older, and 10% per year in persons 49 years of age and older. POAG is undiagnosed in up to 50% of the population. The quality of the evidence is moderate.
Gender
Five cross-sectional studies evaluated the association between gender and POAG. Consistency in estimates is lacking among studies and because of this the association between gender and prevalent POAG is inconclusive. The quality of the evidence is very low.
Ethnicity
Only 1 cross-sectional study compared the prevalence rates of POAG between black and white participants. These data suggest that prevalent glaucoma is statistically significantly greater in a black population 50 years of age and older compared with a white population of similar age. There is an overall 4-fold increase in prevalent POAG in a black population compared with a white population. This increase may be due to a confounding variable not accounted for in the analysis. The quality of the evidence is low.
Refractive Error
Four cross-sectional studies assessed the association of myopia and POAG. These data suggest an association between myopia defined as a spherical equivalent of -1.00D or worse and prevalent POAG. However, there is inconsistency in results regarding the statistical significance of the association between myopia when defined as a spherical equivalent of -0.5D. The quality of the evidence is very low.
Family History of POAG
Three cross-sectional studies investigated the association between family history of glaucoma and prevalent POAG. These data suggest a 2.5 to 3.0 fold increase in the odds having POAG in persons with a family history (any first-degree relative) of POAG. The quality of the evidence is moderate.
Age-Related Maculopathy
Age
Four cohort studies evaluated the association between age and early ARM and AMD. After 55 years of age, the incidence of both early ARM and AMD increases with increasing age. Progression to AMD occurs in up to 12% of persons with early ARM. The quality of the evidence is low
Gender
Four cohort studies evaluated the association between gender and early ARM and AMD. Gender differences in incident early ARM and incident AMD are not supported from these data. The quality of the evidence is lows.
Ethnicity
One meta-analysis and 2 cross-sectional studies reported the ethnic-specific prevalence rates of ARM. The data suggests that the prevalence of early ARM is higher in a white population compared with a black population. The data suggest that the ethnic-specific differences in the prevalence of AMD remain inconclusive.
Refractive Error
Two cohort studies investigated the association between refractive error and the development of incident early ARM and AMD. The quality of the evidence is very low.
Family History
Two cross-sectional studies evaluated the association of family history and early ARM and AMD. Data from one study supports an association between a positive family history of AMD and having AMD. The results of the study indicate an almost 4-fold increase in the odds of any AMD in a person with a family history of AMD. The quality of the evidence, as based on the GRADE criteria is moderate.
Economic Analysis
The prevalence of glaucoma is estimated at 1 to 3% for a Caucasian population and 4.2 to 8.8% for a black population. The incidence of glaucoma is estimated at 0.5 to 2.5% per year in the literature. The percentage of people who go blind per year as a result of glaucoma is approximately 0.55%.
The total population of Ontarians aged 50 to 64 years is estimated at 2.6 million based on the April 2006 Ontario Ministry of Finance population estimates. The range of utilization for a major eye examination in 2006/07 for this age group is estimated at 567,690 to 669,125, were coverage for major eye exams extended to this age group. This would represent a net increase in utilization of approximately 440,116 to 541,551.
The percentage of Ontario population categorized as black and/or those with a family history of glaucoma was approximately 20%. Therefore, the estimated range of utilization for a major eye examination in 2006/07 for this sub-population is estimated at 113,538 - 138,727 (20% of the estimated range of utilization in total population of 50-64 year olds in Ontario), were coverage for major eye exams extended to this sub-group. This would represent a net increase in utilization of approximately 88,023 to 108,310 within this sub-group.
Costs
The total cost of a major eye examination by a physician is $42.15, as per the 2006 Schedule of Benefits for Physician Services.(1) The total difference between the treatments of early-stage versus late-stage glaucoma was estimated at $167. The total cost per recipient was estimated at $891/person.
Current Ontario Policy
As of November 1, 2004 persons between 20 years and 64 years of age are eligible for an insured eye examination once every year if they have any of the following medical conditions: diabetes mellitus type 1 or 2, glaucoma, cataract(s), retinal disease, amblyopia, visual field defects, corneal disease, or strabismus. Persons between 20 to 64 years of age who do not have diabetes mellitus, glaucoma, cataract(s), retinal disease, amblyopia, visual field defects, corneal disease, or strabismus may be eligible for an annual eye examination if they have a valid “request for major eye examination” form completed by a physician (other than that who completed the eye exam) or a nurse practitioner working in a collaborative practice. Persons 20-64 years of age who are in receipt of social assistance and who do not have one of the 8 medical conditions listed above are eligible to receive an eye exam once every 2 years as a non-OHIP government funded service. Persons 19 years of age or younger and 65 years of age or older may receive an insured eye exam once every year.
Considerations for Policy Development
As of July 17, 2006 there were 1,402 practicing optometrists in Ontario. As of December 31, 2005 there were 404 practicing ophthalmologists in Ontario. It is unknown how many third party payers now cover routine eye exams for person between the ages of 20 and 64 years of age in Ontario.
PMCID: PMC3379534  PMID: 23074485
17.  First Diagnosis and Management of Incontinence in Older People with and without Dementia in Primary Care: A Cohort Study Using The Health Improvement Network Primary Care Database 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(8):e1001505.
Robert Grant and colleagues used the British THIN primary care database to determine rates of first diagnosis of urinary and faecal incontinence among people aged 60–89 with dementia compared with those without dementia, and the use of medication or indwelling catheters for urinary incontinence in those with and without dementia.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
Dementia is one of the most disabling and burdensome diseases. Incontinence in people with dementia is distressing, adds to carer burden, and influences decisions to relocate people to care homes. Successful and safe management of incontinence in people with dementia presents additional challenges. The aim of this study was to investigate the rates of first diagnosis in primary care of urinary and faecal incontinence among people aged 60–89 with dementia, and the use of medication or indwelling catheters for urinary incontinence.
Methods and Findings
We extracted data on 54,816 people aged 60–89 with dementia and an age-gender stratified sample of 205,795 people without dementia from 2001 to 2010 from The Health Improvement Network (THIN), a United Kingdom primary care database. THIN includes data on patients and primary care consultations but does not identify care home residents. Rate ratios were adjusted for age, sex, and co-morbidity using multilevel Poisson regression.
The rates of first diagnosis per 1,000 person-years at risk (95% confidence interval) for urinary incontinence in the dementia cohort, among men and women, respectively, were 42.3 (40.9–43.8) and 33.5 (32.6–34.5). In the non-dementia cohort, the rates were 19.8 (19.4–20.3) and 18.6 (18.2–18.9). The rates of first diagnosis for faecal incontinence in the dementia cohort were 11.1 (10.4–11.9) and 10.1 (9.6–10.6). In the non-dementia cohort, the rates were 3.1 (2.9–3.3) and 3.6 (3.5–3.8).
The adjusted rate ratio for first diagnosis of urinary incontinence was 3.2 (2.7–3.7) in men and 2.7 (2.3–3.2) in women, and for faecal incontinence was 6.0 (5.1–7.0) in men and 4.5 (3.8–5.2) in women. The adjusted rate ratio for pharmacological treatment of urinary incontinence was 2.2 (1.4–3.7) for both genders, and for indwelling urinary catheters was 1.6 (1.3–1.9) in men and 2.3 (1.9–2.8) in women.
Conclusions
Compared with those without a dementia diagnosis, those with a dementia diagnosis have approximately three times the rate of diagnosis of urinary incontinence, and more than four times the rate of faecal incontinence, in UK primary care. The clinical management of urinary incontinence in people with dementia with medication and particularly the increased use of catheters is concerning and requires further investigation.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Globally, more than 35 million people have dementia, brain disorders that are characterized by an irreversible decline in cognitive functions such as language and memory. Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia mainly affect older people and, because people are living longer than ever, experts estimate that by 2050 more than 115 million people will have dementia. The earliest sign of dementia is usually increasing forgetfulness but, as the disease progresses, people gradually lose their ability to deal with normal daily activities such as dressing, they may become anxious or aggressive, and they may lose control of their bladder (urinary incontinence), bowels (bowel or fecal incontinence), and other physical functions. As a result, people with dementia require increasing amounts of care as the disease progresses. Relatives and other unpaid carers provide much of this care—two-thirds of people with dementia are cared for at home. However, many people with dementia end their days in a care or nursing home.
Why Was This Study Done?
Incontinence in people with dementia is distressing for the person with dementia and for their carers and often influences decisions to move individuals into care homes. However, little is known about the diagnosis and treatment of urinary and/or fecal incontinence among people with dementia living at home. This information is needed to help policymakers commission the services required for this section of society and insurers recognize the needs such patients have, as well as helping to raise clinicians' awareness of the issue. In this cohort study (an investigation that compares outcomes in groups of people with different characteristics), the researchers use data routinely collected from general practices (primary care) in the UK to determine the rate of first diagnosis of urinary and fecal incontinence in elderly patients with and without dementia and to find out whether a diagnosis of dementia affects the rate of use of drugs or of indwelling urinary catheters (tubes inserted into the bladder to drain urine from the body) for the treatment of urinary incontinence.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers extracted data collected between 2001 and 2010 on incontinence for nearly 55,000 people aged 60–89 with a diagnosis of dementia (the dementia cohort) and for more than 200,000 individuals without a diagnosis of dementia (the non-dementia cohort) from The Health Improvement Network (THIN) primary care database, which includes anonymized consultation records from nearly 500 UK general practices. In the dementia cohort, the rates of first diagnosis of urinary incontinence were 42.3 and 33.5 per 1,000 person-years at risk among men and women, respectively. In the non-dementia cohort, the corresponding rates were 19.8 and 18.6. The rates of first diagnosis of fecal incontinence were 11.1 and 10.1 in the dementia cohort, and 3.1 and 3.6 in the non-dementia cohort among men and women, respectively. After adjusting for age, sex and other diseases, the adjusted rate ratio for the first diagnosis of urinary incontinence in people with dementia compared to people without dementia was 3.2 in men and 2.7 in women; for fecal incontinence, it was 6.0 in men and 4.5 in women; the adjusted rate ratio was 2.2 for both men and women for drug treatment of urinary incontinence and 1.6 in men and 2.3 in women for use of indwelling urinary catheters.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that, in primary care in the UK, dementia is associated with a three-fold higher rate of diagnosis of urinary incontinence and a greater than four-fold higher rate of diagnosis of fecal incontinence. Moreover, the authors suggest that some aspects of clinical management of urinary continence vary between people with and without dementia. In particular, the use of indwelling urinary catheters appears to be more common among people with dementia than among people without dementia, increasing the risk of infection. Thus, health care practitioners providing care for people with dementia may be prioritizing ease of management over risk avoidance, a possibility that requires further investigation. Although the accuracy of these findings is limited by certain aspects of the study design (for example, the THIN database does not identify which patients are living in care homes), they nevertheless suggest that policymakers and insurers involved in planning and providing services for people with dementia living at home need to provide high levels of help with incontinence, including the provision of advice and support for carers.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001505.
The UK not-for-profit organization Alzheimers Society provides information for patients and carers about dementia, including information on coping with incontinence and personal stories about living with dementia
The US not-for-profit organization Alzheimers Association also provides information for patients and carers about dementia and about incontinence, and personal stories about dementia
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides information (including personal stories) about dementia, urinary incontinence, and bowel incontinence
MedlinePlus provides links to further resources about dementia, urinary incontinence and fecal incontinence (in English and Spanish)
The International Continence Society and the International Consultation on Urological Diseases provide independent advice on products to manage incontinence
More information about the THIN database is available
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001505
PMCID: PMC3754889  PMID: 24015113
18.  Socioeconomic Factors and All Cause and Cause-Specific Mortality among Older People in Latin America, India, and China: A Population-Based Cohort Study 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(2):e1001179.
Cleusa Ferri and colleagues studied mortality rates in over 12,000 people aged 65 years and over in Latin America, India, and China and showed that chronic diseases are the main causes of death and that education has an important effect on mortality.
Background
Even in low and middle income countries most deaths occur in older adults. In Europe, the effects of better education and home ownership upon mortality seem to persist into old age, but these effects may not generalise to LMICs. Reliable data on causes and determinants of mortality are lacking.
Methods and Findings
The vital status of 12,373 people aged 65 y and over was determined 3–5 y after baseline survey in sites in Latin America, India, and China. We report crude and standardised mortality rates, standardized mortality ratios comparing mortality experience with that in the United States, and estimated associations with socioeconomic factors using Cox's proportional hazards regression. Cause-specific mortality fractions were estimated using the InterVA algorithm. Crude mortality rates varied from 27.3 to 70.0 per 1,000 person-years, a 3-fold variation persisting after standardisation for demographic and economic factors. Compared with the US, mortality was much higher in urban India and rural China, much lower in Peru, Venezuela, and urban Mexico, and similar in other sites. Mortality rates were higher among men, and increased with age. Adjusting for these effects, it was found that education, occupational attainment, assets, and pension receipt were all inversely associated with mortality, and food insecurity positively associated. Mutually adjusted, only education remained protective (pooled hazard ratio 0.93, 95% CI 0.89–0.98). Most deaths occurred at home, but, except in India, most individuals received medical attention during their final illness. Chronic diseases were the main causes of death, together with tuberculosis and liver disease, with stroke the leading cause in nearly all sites.
Conclusions
Education seems to have an important latent effect on mortality into late life. However, compositional differences in socioeconomic position do not explain differences in mortality between sites. Social protection for older people, and the effectiveness of health systems in preventing and treating chronic disease, may be as important as economic and human development.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Worldwide, half of all deaths occur in people aged 60 or older. Yet mortality among older people is a neglected topic in global health. In high income countries, where 84% of people do not die until they are aged 65 years or older, the causes of death among older people and the factors (determinants) that affect their risk of dying are well documented. In Europe, for example, the leading causes of death among older people are heart disease, stroke, and other chronic (long-term) diseases. Moreover, as in younger age groups, having a better education and owning a house reduces the risk of death among older people. By contrast, in low and middle income countries (LMICs), where three-quarters of deaths of older people occur, reliable data on the causes and determinants of death among older people are lacking, in part because many LMICs have inadequate vital registration systems—official records of all births and deaths.
Why Was This Study Done?
In many LMICs, chronic diseases are replacing communicable (infectious) diseases as the leading causes of death and disability—health experts call this the epidemiological transition (epidemiology is the study of the distribution and causes of disease in populations)—and the average age of the population is increasing (the demographic transition). Faced with these changes, which occur when countries move from a pre-industrial to an industrial economy, policy makers in LMICs need to introduce measures to improve health and reduce deaths among older people. However, to do this, they need reliable data on the causes and determinants of death in this section of the population. In this longitudinal population-based cohort study (a type of study that follows a group of people from a defined population over time), researchers from the 10/66 Dementia Research Group, which is carrying out population-based research on dementia, aging, and non-communicable diseases in LMICs, investigate the patterns of mortality among older people living in Latin America, India, and China.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
Between 2003 and 2005, the researchers completed a baseline survey of people aged 65 years or older living in six Latin American LMICs, China, and India. Three to five years later, they determined the vital status of 12,373 of the study participants (that is, they determined whether the individual was alive or dead) and interviewed a key informant (usually a relative) about each death using a standardized “verbal autopsy” questionnaire that includes questions about date and place of death, and about medical help-seeking and signs and symptoms noted during the final illness. Finally, they used a tool called the InterVA algorithm to calculate the most likely causes of death from the verbal autopsies. Crude mortality rates varied from 27.3 per 1,000 person-years in urban Peru to 70.0 per 1,000 person-years in urban India, a three-fold difference in mortality rates that persisted even after allowing for differences in age, sex, education, occupational attainment, and number of assets among the study sites. Compared to the US, mortality rates were much higher in urban India and rural China; much lower in urban and rural Peru, Venezuela, and urban Mexico; but similar elsewhere. Although several socioeconomic factors were associated with mortality, only a higher education status provided consistent independent protection against death in statistical analyses. Finally, chronic diseases were the main causes of death; stroke was the leading cause of death at all the sites except those in rural Peru and Mexico.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings identify the main causes of death among older adults in a range of LMICs and suggest that there is an association of education with mortality that extends into later life. However, these findings may not be generalizable to other LMICs or even to other sites in the LMICs studied, and because some of the information provided by key informants may have been affected by recall error, the accuracy of the findings may be limited. Nevertheless, these findings suggest how health and mortality might be improved in elderly people in LMICs. Specifically, they suggest that efforts to ensure universal access to education should confer substantial health benefits and that interventions that target social and economic vulnerability in later life and promote access to effectively organized health care (particularly for stroke) should be considered.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001179.
The World Health Organization provides information on mortality around the world and projections of global mortality up to 2030
The 10/66 Dementia Research Group is building an evidence base to inform the development and implementation of policies for improving the health and social welfare of older people in LMICs, particularly people with dementia; its website includes background information about demographic and epidemiological aging in LMICs
Wikipedia has a page on the demographic transition (note: Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
Information about the InterVA tool for interpreting verbal autopsy data is available
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has information about healthy aging
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001179
PMCID: PMC3289608  PMID: 22389633
19.  Sensory impairments in community health care: a descriptive study of hearing and vision among elderly Norwegians living at home 
Background
Hearing and vision impairments increase with age and are common risk factors for functional decline reduced social participation and withdrawal.
Objective
Describe the hearing and vision of home care patients older than 80 years.
Methods
Ninety-three older adults (80+ years) receiving home care were screened for hearing and vision in their homes. Data were collected using a HEINE Mini 3000® Otoscope to examine the eardrum and presence of earwax, an Entomed SA201-IV portable pure-tone audiometer to measure the pure-tone average (PTAV), a logarithm of the minimum angle of resolution chart to measure visual acuity (VA), and the Combined Serious Sensory Impairment interview guide.
Results
Slight and moderate hearing impairments were found in 41% and 47% of the population, respectively (mean PTAV =40.4 dB for the better ear), and 40% and 56% had impaired and slightly impaired vision, respectively (mean VA =0.45 for the better eye). The participants’ self-assessments of hearing and vision were only weakly correlated with PTAV and VA values. The visual function was significantly worse in men than in women (P=0.033). Difficulty in performing instrumental activities of daily living because of hearing and vision impairments was experienced by 17% of the participants, whereas 76% experienced no difficulties. When many people were present, 72% of the participants found it difficult to understand speech. Nearly 30% found it tiring to read, and 41% could not read very small print.
Conclusion
The patients’ self-assessments of their hearing and vision did not correlate strongly with their VA and PTAV scores. Asking the elderly about their overall hearing and vision ability is not sufficient for detecting sensory impairment, and asking more specific questions about what they could not hear and see was not an adequate indicator of the patients’ hearing and vision problems. To detect hearing and vision impairments among elderly home care patients, standardized measurements of their hearing and vision are necessary.
doi:10.2147/JMDH.S58461
PMCID: PMC4045259  PMID: 24920916
dual sensory impairment; home care; vision; hearing; elderly
20.  Effectiveness of screening older people for impaired vision in community setting: systematic review of evidence from randomised controlled trials 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  1998;316(7132):660-663.
Objective: To assess whether population screening for impaired vision among older people in the community leads to improvements in vision.
Design: Systematic review of randomised controlled trials of population screening in the community that included any assessment of vision or visual function with at least 6 months’ follow up.
Subjects: Adults aged 65 or over.
Main outcome measure: Proportions with visual impairment in intervention and control groups with any method of assessing visual impairment.
Results: There were no trials that primarily assessed visual screening. Outcome data on vision were available for 3494 people in five trials of multiphasic assessment. All the trials used self reported measures for vision impairment, both as screening tools and as outcome measures. The inclusion of a visual screening component in the assessments did not result in improvements in self reported visual problems (pooled odds ratio 1.04: 95% confidence interval 0.89 to 1.22). A small reduction (11%) in the number of older people with self reported visual problems cannot be excluded.
Conclusions: Screening of asymptomatic older people in the community is not justified on present evidence. Visual impairment in this age group can usually be reduced with treatment. It is unclear why no benefit was seen. Further work is needed to clarify what interventions are appropriate for older people with unreported impairment of vision.
Key messages Impaired vision is common among older people and has a variety of adverse associations General practitioners are currently obliged to offer an annual assessment of vision as part of the 75 and over programme Evidence for effectiveness of visual screening is lacking, but a small beneficial effect cannot be excluded The continued inclusion of screening for impaired vision in screening programmes for older people is not supported by the evidence Further work is needed to clarify appropriate interventions for older people with unreported visual impairment
PMCID: PMC28469  PMID: 9522788
21.  Social Isolation in Community-Dwelling Seniors 
Executive Summary
In early August 2007, the Medical Advisory Secretariat began work on the Aging in the Community project, an evidence-based review of the literature surrounding healthy aging in the community. The Health System Strategy Division at the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care subsequently asked the secretariat to provide an evidentiary platform for the ministry’s newly released Aging at Home Strategy.
After a broad literature review and consultation with experts, the secretariat identified 4 key areas that strongly predict an elderly person’s transition from independent community living to a long-term care home. Evidence-based analyses have been prepared for each of these 4 areas: falls and fall-related injuries, urinary incontinence, dementia, and social isolation. For the first area, falls and fall-related injuries, an economic model is described in a separate report.
Please visit the Medical Advisory Secretariat Web site, http://www.health.gov.on.ca/english/providers/program/mas/mas_about.html, to review these titles within the Aging in the Community series.
Aging in the Community: Summary of Evidence-Based Analyses
Prevention of Falls and Fall-Related Injuries in Community-Dwelling Seniors: An Evidence-Based Analysis
Behavioural Interventions for Urinary Incontinence in Community-Dwelling Seniors: An Evidence-Based Analysis
Caregiver- and Patient-Directed Interventions for Dementia: An Evidence-Based Analysis
Social Isolation in Community-Dwelling Seniors: An Evidence-Based Analysis
The Falls/Fractures Economic Model in Ontario Residents Aged 65 Years and Over (FEMOR)
Objective of the Evidence-Based Analysis
The objective was to systematically review interventions aimed at preventing or reducing social isolation and loneliness in community-dwelling seniors, that is, persons ≥ 65 years of age who are not living in long-term care institutions. The analyses focused on the following questions:
Are interventions to reduce social isolation and/or loneliness effective?
Do these interventions improve health, well-being, and/or quality of life?
Do these interventions impact on independent community living by delaying or preventing functional decline or disability?
Do the interventions impact on health care utilization, such as physician visits, emergency visits, hospitalization, or admission to long-term care?
Background: Target Population and Condition
Social and family relationships are a core element of quality of life for seniors, and these relationships have been ranked second, next to health, as the most important area of life. Several related concepts—reduced social contact, being alone, isolation, and feelings of loneliness—have all been associated with a reduced quality of life in older people. Social isolation and loneliness have also been associated with a number of negative outcomes such as poor health, maladaptive behaviour, and depressed mood. Higher levels of loneliness have also been associated with increased likelihood of institutionalization.
Note: It is recognized that the terms “senior” and “elderly” carry a range of meanings for different audiences; this report generally uses the former, but the terms are treated here as essentially interchangeable.
Methods of the Evidence-Based Analysis
The scientific evidence base was evaluated through a systematic literature review. The literature searches were conducted with several computerized bibliographic databases for literature published between January 1980 and February 2008. The search was restricted to English-language reports on human studies and excluded letters, comments and editorials, and case reports. Journal articles eligible for inclusion in the review included those that reported on single, focused interventions directed towards or evaluating social isolation or loneliness; included, in whole or in part, community-dwelling seniors (≥ 65 years); included some quantitative outcome measure on social isolation or loneliness; and included a comparative group. Assessments of current practices were obtained through consultations with various individuals and agencies including the Ontario Community Care Access Centres and the Ontario Assistive Devices Program. An Ontario-based budget impact was also assessed for the identified effective interventions for social isolation.
Findings
A systematic review of the published literature focusing on interventions for social isolation and loneliness in community-dwelling seniors identified 11 quantitative studies. The studies involved European or American populations with diverse recruitment strategies, intervention objectives, and limited follow-up, with cohorts from 10 to 15 years ago involving mainly elderly women less than 75 years of age. The studies involved 2 classes of interventions: in-person group support activities and technology-assisted interventions. These were delivered to diverse targeted groups of seniors such as those with mental distress, physically inactive seniors, low-income groups, and informal caregivers. The interventions were primarily focused on behaviour-based change. Modifying factors (client attitude or preference) and process issues (targeting methods of at-risk subjects, delivery methods, and settings) influenced intervention participation and outcomes.
Both classes of interventions were found to reduce social isolation and loneliness in seniors. Social support groups were found to effectively decrease social isolation for seniors on wait lists for senior apartments and those living in senior citizen apartments. Community-based exercise programs featuring health and wellness for physically inactive community-dwelling seniors also effectively reduced loneliness. Rehabilitation for mild/moderate hearing loss was effective in improving communication disabilities and reducing loneliness in seniors. Interventions evaluated for informal caregivers of seniors with dementia, however, had limited effectiveness for social isolation or loneliness.
Research into interventions for social isolation in seniors has not been broadly based, relative to the diverse personal, social, health, economic, and environmentally interrelated factors potentially affecting isolation. Although rehabilitation for hearing-related disability was evaluated, the systematic review did not locate research on interventions for other common causes of aging-related disability and loneliness, such as vision loss or mobility declines. Despite recent technological advances in e-health or telehealth, controlled studies evaluating technology-assisted interventions for social isolation have examined only basic technologies such as phone- or computer-mediated support groups.
Conclusions
Although effective interventions were identified for social isolation and loneliness in community-dwelling seniors, they were directed at specifically targeted groups and involved only a few of the many potential causes of social isolation. Little research has been directed at identifying effective interventions that influence the social isolation and other burdens imposed upon caregivers, in spite of the key role that caregivers assume in caring for seniors. The evidence on technology-assisted interventions and their effects on the social health and well-being of seniors and their caregivers is limited, but increasing demand for home health care and the need for efficiencies warrant further exploration. Interventions for social isolation in community-dwelling seniors need to be researched more broadly in order to develop effective, appropriate, and comprehensive strategies for at-risk populations.
PMCID: PMC3377559  PMID: 23074510
22.  Is the NEI-VFQ-25 a useful tool in identifying visual impairment in an elderly population? 
BMC Ophthalmology  2006;6:24.
Background
The use of self-report questionnaires to substitute for visual acuity measurement has been limited. We examined the association between visual impairment and self reported visual function in a population sample of older people in the UK.
Methods
Cross sectional study of people aged more than 75 years who initially participated in a trial of health screening. The association between 25-item National Eye Institute Visual Function Questionnaire (NEI-VFQ) scores and visual impairment (defined as an acuity of less than 6/18 in the better eye) was examined using logistic regression.
Results
Visual acuity and NEI-VFQ scores were obtained from 1807 participants (aged 77 to 101 years, 36% male), from 20 general practices throughout the UK. After adjustment for age, gender, practice and NEI-VFQ sub-scale scores, those complaining of poor vision in general were 4.77 times (95% CI 3.03 to 7.53) more likely to be visually impaired compared to those who did not report difficulty. Self-reported limitations with social functioning and dependency on others due to poor vision were also associated with visual impairment (odds ratios, 2.52, 95% CI 1.55 to 4.11; 1.73, 95% CI 1.05 to 2.86 respectively). Those reporting difficulties with near vision and colour vision were more likely to be visually impaired (odds ratios, 2.32, 95% CI 1.30 to 4.15; 2.25, 95% CI 1.35 to 3.73 respectively). Other NEI-VFQ sub-scale scores were unrelated to measures of acuity. Similar but weaker odds ratios were found with reduced visual acuity (defined as less than 6/12 in the better eye). Although differences in NEI-VFQ scores were small, scores were strongly associated with visual acuity, binocular status, and difference in acuity between eyes.
Conclusion
NEI-VFQ questions regarding the quality of general vision, social functioning, visual dependency, near vision and colour vision are strongly and independently associated with an objective measure of visual impairment in an elderly population.
doi:10.1186/1471-2415-6-24
PMCID: PMC1523367  PMID: 16764714
23.  Symptom burden in community-dwelling older people with multimorbidity: a cross-sectional study 
BMC Geriatrics  2015;15:1.
Background
Globally, the population is ageing and lives with several chronic diseases for decades. A high symptom burden is associated with a high use of healthcare, admissions to nursing homes, and reduced quality of life. The aims of this study were to describe the multidimensional symptom profile and symptom burden in community-dwelling older people with multimorbidity, and to describe factors related to symptom burden.
Methods
A cross-sectional study including 378 community-dwelling people ≥ 75 years, who had been hospitalized ≥ 3 times during the previous year, had ≥ 3 diagnoses in their medical records. The Memorial Symptom Assessment Scale was used to assess the prevalence, frequency, severity, distress and symptom burden of 31 symptoms. A multiple linear regression was performed to identify factors related to total symptom burden.
Results
The mean number of symptoms per participant was 8.5 (4.6), and the mean total symptom burden score was 0.62 (0.41). Pain was the symptom with the highest prevalence, frequency, severity and distress. Half of the study group reported the prevalence of lack of energy and a dry mouth. Poor vision, likelihood of depression, and diagnoses of the digestive system were independently related to the total symptom burden score.
Conclusion
The older community-dwelling people with multimorbidity in this study suffered from a high symptom burden with a high prevalence of pain. Persons with poor vision, likelihood of depression, and diseases of the digestive system are at risk of a higher total symptom burden and might need age-specific standardized guidelines for appropriate management.
doi:10.1186/1471-2318-15-1
PMCID: PMC4292813  PMID: 25559550
Chronic disease; Older people; Symptom assessment
24.  Association Between Depression and Functional Vision Loss in Persons 20 Years of Age or Older in the United States, NHANES 2005–2008 
JAMA ophthalmology  2013;131(5):573-581.
Importance
This study provides further evidence from a national sample to generalize the relationship between depression and vision loss to adults across the age spectrum. Better recognition of depression among people reporting reduced ability to perform routine activities of daily living due to vision loss is warranted.
Objectives
To estimate, in a national survey of US adults 20 years of age or older, the prevalence of depression among adults reporting visual function loss and among those with visual acuity impairment. The relationship between depression and vision loss has not been reported in a nationally representative sample of US adults. Previous studies have been limited to specific cohorts and predominantly focused on the older population.
Design
The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2005–2008.
Setting
A cross-sectional, nationally representative sample of adults, with prevalence estimates weighted to represent the civilian, noninstitutionalized US population.
Participants
A total of 10 480 US adults 20 years of age or older.
Main Outcome Measures
Depression, as measured by the 9-item Patient Health Questionnaire depression scale, and vision loss, as measured by visual function using a questionnaire and by visual acuity at examination.
Results
In 2005–2008, the estimated crude prevalence of depression (9-item Patient Health Questionnaire score of ≥10) was 11.3% (95% CI, 9.7%–13.2%) among adults with self-reported visual function loss and 4.8% (95% CI, 4.0%–5.7%) among adults without. The estimated prevalence of depression was 10.7% (95% CI, 8.0%–14.3%) among adults with presenting visual acuity impairment (visual acuity worse than 20/40 in the better-seeing eye) compared with 6.8% (95% CI, 5.8%–7.8%) among adults with normal visual acuity. After controlling for age, sex, race/ethnicity, marital status, living alone or not, education, income, employment status, health insurance, body mass index, smoking, binge drinking, general health status, eyesight worry, and major chronic conditions, self-reported visual function loss remained significantly associated with depression (overall odds ratio, 1.9 [95% CI, 1.6–2.3]), whereas the association between presenting visual acuity impairment and depression was no longer statistically significant.
Conclusions and Relevance
Self-reported visual function loss, rather than loss of visual acuity, is significantly associated with depression. Health professionals should be aware of the risk of depression among persons reporting visual function loss.
doi:10.1001/jamaophthalmol.2013.2597
PMCID: PMC3772677  PMID: 23471505
25.  The Community In-Reach and Care Transition (CIRACT) clinical and cost-effectiveness study: study protocol for a randomised controlled trial 
Trials  2015;16:41.
Background
Older people represent a significant proportion of patients admitted to hospital. Their care compared to younger patients is more challenging, length of stay is longer, risk of hospital-acquired problems higher and the risk of being re-admitted within 28 days greater. This study aims to compare a Community In-Reach and Care Transition (CIRACT) service with Traditional Hospital Based rehabilitation (THB-Rehab) provided to the older person. The CIRACT service differs from the THB-rehab service in that they are able to provide more intensive hospital rehabilitation, visiting patients daily, and are able to continue with the patient’s rehabilitation following discharge allowing a seamless, integrated discharge working alongside community providers. A pilot comparing the two services showed that the CIRACT service demonstrated reduced length of stay and reduced re-admission rates when analysed over a four-month period.
Methods/Design
This trial will evaluate the clinical and cost-effectiveness of the CIRACT service, conducted as a randomised controlled trial (RCT) with an integral qualitative mechanism and action study designed to provide the explanatory and theoretical components on how the CIRACT service compares to current practice. The RCT element consists of 240 patients over 70 years of age, being randomised to either the THB therapy group or the CIRACT service following an unplanned hospital admission. The primary outcome will be hospital length of stay from admission to discharge from the general medical elderly care ward. Additional outcome measures including the Barthel Index, Charlson Co-morbidity Scale, EuroQoL-5D and the modified Client Service Receipt Inventory will be assessed at the time of recruitment and repeated at 91 days post-discharge. The qualitative mechanism and action study will involve a systematic programme of organisational profiling, observations of work processes, interviews with key informants and care providers and tracking of participants. In addition, a within-trial economic evaluation will be undertaken comparing the CIRACT and THB-rehab services to determine cost-effectiveness.
Discussion
The outcome of the study will inform clinical decision-making, with respect to allocation of resources linked to hospital discharge planning and re-admissions, in a resource intensive and growing group of patients.
Trial registration
Registered with the ISRCTN registry (ISCRCTN94393315) on 25 April 2013 (version 3.1, 11 September 2014).
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13063-015-0551-2) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s13063-015-0551-2
PMCID: PMC4327808
Rehabilitation; In-reach; Community; In-patients; Older people

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