AIMS: To examine direct and indirect pathways between visual and cognitive function in advanced age. METHODS: We analysed cross-sectional baseline data from Life and Living in Advanced Age: A Cohort Study in New Zealand, which recruited equal sample sizes of Māori (n=421) and non-Māori (n=516) octogenarians. The Modified Mini-Mental State Examination assessed cognitive function. Vision was assessed with self-report and measured distance visual acuity. Associations between visual and cognitive function were explored using general linear models and structural equation modelling. RESULTS: Both Māori (mean age 82) and non-Māori (mean age 85) had good visual acuity [Māori: mean (standard deviation) 0.18 (0.20) logMAR; non-Māori 0.20 (0.17) logMAR] and cognitive function scores [Māori: median (interquartile range) 3MS=90 (11), non-Māori: 94 (8)]. Self-reported visual impairment was present almost 25% of the sample. Adjusting for confounders, no direct association was found between visual and cognitive function. For non-Māori, the path diagram showed the association between vision loss, and cognitive function was mediated by functional status. CONCLUSION: Findings indicate that cognitive function is a multifactorial entity; rather than a direct effect of vision loss, mediating factors appear to contribute to cognitive decline in advanced age.

Additional Metadata
Persistent URL
Journal New Zealand Medical Journal
Note no subscription
De Kok, D.S. (Denise S), Teh, R.O. (Ruth O.), Pillai, A. (Avinesh), Connolly, M.J. (Martin J), Wilkinson, T.J. (Tim J), Jacobs, R. (Robert), … Kerse, N. (Ngaire). (2017). What is the relationship between visual impairment and cognitive function in octogenarians?. New Zealand Medical Journal, 130(1460), 33–47. Retrieved from