Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Palmer, Charles D.

Committee Member

Crews, John E.

Committee Member

Heiselt, April K.

Committee Member

Looby, Eugenie J.

Committee Member

Goldberg, Rebecca M.

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Counselor Education

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


College of Education


Department of Counseling, Educational Psychology and Foundations


The purpose of the study was to investigate the prevalence and effects of vision impairment co-existing with other comorbid conditions. Utilizing the 2008 National Health Interview Survey, the most recent nationally representative data including expanded vision, health conditions, and activity questions, this study examined the effect of vision impairment co-existing with selected comorbid conditions among non-institutionalized older adults age ≥ 55 years. Specifically, this study compared 4 groups: (a) older adults with neither vison impairment nor comorbid conditions, (b) older adults with vision impairment only, (c) older adults with comorbid conditions only, and (d) older adults with both vision impairment and each of the comorbid conditions to examine the prevalence and effect of vision impairment and comorbid conditions on selected mobility and vision activity limitations, and participation restrictions. Using complex sample techniques to conduct frequency analyses and logistic regression procedures, this study compared these groups of older adults to document the likelihood of experiencing mobility and vision activity limitations, and participatory restrictions. These results suggest that older adults reporting vision impairments are a heterogeneous population, overwhelmingly use corrective lenses, and experience substantial mobility and vision activity limitations, and participatory restrictions; however, relatively few report using low vision aids or rehabilitation services. In addition, these results revealed, even when controlling for age, sex, race/ethnicity, marital status, region of residence, and health status, older adults with vision impairment and any of the selected comorbid conditions were statistically significantly more likely to report mobility and vision activity limitations, and participation restrictions. Moreover, when comparing older adults reporting vision impairment co-existing with comorbid conditions older adults reporting either vision impairment only or a comorbid condition only, the results suggest vision impairment had the largest statistically significant effect on the likelihood of mobility or vision activity limitations, or participatory restriction in 29 of the 44 logistic regression analyses. These findings are significant as vision impairment is framed as a public health concern, and can inform improvements in programs and services for older adults. Finally, these findings highlight the need for expanded research examining the effect of specific eye diseases and comorbid conditions among older adults.