Task Force Recommends Older Adults Mention Eye Problems To Their Primary Care or Ophthalmologist

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Albert Siu M.D., M.S.P.H. Chair of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force Chairman and professor of the Brookdale Department of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Director of the Geriatric Research, Education, and Clinical Center James J. Peters Veterans Affairs Medical Center

Dr. Albert Siu

Dr. Albert Siu M.D., M.S.P.H.
Chair of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force
Chairman and professor of the Brookdale Department of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine
Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
Director of the Geriatric Research, Education, and Clinical Center
James J. Peters Veterans Affairs Medical Center

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Siu: Impaired vision is a serious and common problem facing older adults and can affect their independence, ability to function, and quality of life. When the Task Force reviewed the research around screening older adults for vision impairment in a primary care setting, we concluded that the current evidence is insufficient to assess the balance of benefits and harms. As a result, we issued an I statement, which is consistent with the 2009 final and 2015 draft recommendations.

MedicalResearch.com: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Siu: Older adults who are having problems seeing should talk to their primary care doctor or an eye specialist. Primary care doctors can explore the various causes of vision problems and do an eye exam to check for refractive error. An eye specialist can do a full eye exam to look for and treat refractive errors and other eye conditions that affect vision, such as cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (AMD). With regards to clinicians, in the absence of clear evidence, they should use their clinical judgment when deciding whether to screen patients who have not reported any concerns about their vision.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Siu: In evaluating the research to inform this recommendation, the Task Force noted that we need more evidence about which screening methods can be used in primary care settings to identify disorders when people have not yet complained about a loss of visual acuity. Additionally, more studies are needed to understand whether screening older adults for vision problems improves their independence, ability to function, and quality of life. More research in these areas could better inform future vision screening recommendations for older adults. 

MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Dr. Siu: It’s important to remember that this I statement applies to care delivered by a primary care clinician, not an eye specialist—and only to people who have not mentioned any signs or symptoms to their doctor. If you are having problems seeing, you should talk to your primary care doctor or an eye specialist. If you are already wearing glasses or contact lenses, you should continue to see your eye specialist for care. The Task Force is calling for more research on the benefits and harms of primary care doctors screening people who have not mentioned any vision problems.  

MedicalResearch.com: Thank you for your contribution to the MedicalResearch.com community.

Citation:

US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF). Screening for Impaired Visual Acuity in Older Adults: US Preventive Services Task Force Recommendation Statement. JAMA. 2016;315(9):908-914. doi:10.1001/jama.2016.0763.

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Dr. Albert Siu (2016). Task Force Recommends Older Adults Mention Eye Problems To Their Primary Care or Ophthalmologist MedicalResearch.com