To assess the association of visual impairment, age-related macular degeneration (ARMD), and cataract with long-term mortality.
At baseline, 3654 persons 49 years and older were examined in the Blue Mountains Eye Study (1992-1994). Standardized photographic grading was used to assess ARMD and cataract. Mortality and causes of death occurring between baseline and December 31, 2003, were obtained via data linkage with the Australian National Death Index. Age-standardized mortality rates were calculated. Hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were assessed using Cox models.
Age-standardized mortality was higher in persons with vs without visual impairment (54.0% vs 34.0%), ARMD (45.8% vs 33.7%), and cataract (39.2% vs 29.5%). After adjusting for factors that predict mortality, neither visual impairment (HR, 1.3; 95% CI, 0.98-1.7) nor ARMD (HR, 1.0; 95% CI, 0.8-1.3) was significantly associated with all-cause mortality in all ages. Among persons younger than 75 years, however, ARMD predicted higher all-cause mortality (HR, 1.6; 95% CI, 1.0-2.4). Any cataract (HR, 1.3; 95% CI, 1.0-1.5) and cortical (HR, 1.2; 95% CI, 0.97-1.4), nuclear (HR, 1.2; 95% CI, 0.98-1.5), and posterior subcapsular (HR, 1.3; 95% CI, 1.0-1.7) cataract were also associated with higher all-cause mortality.
Cataract predicted increased mortality in persons 49 years and older, and ARMD predicted mortality in persons aged 49 to 74 years.