Vision impairment is most common among older adults. However, research examining the long-term health and aging implications of vision loss has been limited. Dr. Bonnielin Swenor uses her unique perspective as both a researcher and a person with visual impairment to drive her inclusive, person-centered, and interdisciplinary research that combines epidemiology, geriatrics, and vision science. In her presentation, Dr. Swenor discussed her research examining the interrelationship between vision loss and aging, including how visual impairment affects cognitive functioning and risk of dementia, as well as describe potential interventions and future work needed to maximize the health, functioning, and well-being of individuals with visual impairments. You can download Dr. Swenor's slides here or watch her video presentation above:
Pris Rogers, Ph.D.
Pris Rogers serves as a special advisor to the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) on aging and vision loss. Prior to this role, Ms. Rogers was the Program Manager for VisionAware, an online program that helps adults who are losing their sight continue to live full and independent lives. She also served as the Director of eLearning for AFB and was the Commissioner for the Blind in KY. She has a Ph.D. in vision and aging, and a master's in gerontology.
Bonnielin Swenor, Ph.D.
Bonnielin Swenor, Ph.D., MPH, is an Associate Professor at the Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and in the Department of Epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, as well as a Core Faculty Member at the Johns Hopkins Center on Aging and Health (COAH). She received an MPH and Ph.D. in Epidemiology from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Before joining the faculty at JHU in 2014, she was a postdoctoral research fellow at the Translational Gerontology Branch of the National Institute on Aging.
Do you have any ideas about how to better connect with the medical world?
Yes, but it's complicated. I think the biggest thing we have to do is to get the doctors to change the way they refer, and our system of health care is an issue. It is hard to have a conversation with patients who are emotional when you are trying to see a great number of patients each day. Also, the conversations can get very emotional. I think we need to switch the system and have a patient educator available to talk to and advise patients on next steps. We also need to create alerts in the medical record to flag the charts of individuals who need to be referred.
Is there a medical code that could be used for billing insurance for a patient educator?
I am not sure, but if not, that is something we need to push for. It would be really impactful for long term health system utilization by patients with vision loss.