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Midlife Vision Linked to Early Childhood Factors

Impaired vision may be a prenatal factor and can add to midlife social and health issues

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 7 (HealthDay News) -- Prenatal, childhood biological and social determinants may contribute to midlife visual function, according to a study in the October issue of Ophthalmology.

Jugnoo S. Rahi, Ph.D., of University College London, and colleagues studied data on 9,330 members of the 1958 British birth cohort, 44 or 45 years of age. The researchers analyzed the subjects' distance, near and stereo vision, and compared these vision functions and key prenatal and childhood biological and social influences to health and social outcomes in midlife.

Although impaired vision in working-age adults is relatively uncommon, the researchers found that vision impairment was associated with job loss resulting from illness, lower socioeconomic status, and poor overall health status. Retrospectively, impaired vision at midlife was associated with a low birth weight (odds ratio, 1.4), mother smoking during pregnancy (odds ratio, 1.02), markers of socioeconomic deprivation in childhood (odds ratio, 1.1), and being small for gestational age (odds ratio, 1.3).

"Impaired vision can have important adverse consequences, which highlights the value of investigating visual function in the broader context of health and social functioning," the authors conclude. "In addition, visual function in adult life may be influenced directly by key prenatal and childhood biological and social determinants of general health."

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