Influence of age-related maculopathy on visual functioning and health-related quality of life

Am J Ophthalmol. 1999 Jul;128(1):45-53. doi: 10.1016/s0002-9394(99)00169-5.


Purpose: To describe the influence of age-related maculopathy on visual functioning and health-related quality of life.

Methods: A prospective, cross-sectional, observational cohort sample of 201 persons with various stages of age-related maculopathy was recruited from the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary as part of a longitudinal study of age-related macular degeneration. Persons were considered to have age-related maculopathy if one or more of the following clinical characteristics were present: drusen, retinal pigment epithelial changes, geographic atrophy, or evidence of exudative disease. Median corrected visual acuity for this sample was 20/25 in the better eye, with all subjects having 20/200 or better visual acuity in at least one eye at baseline. All participants underwent a comprehensive ophthalmologic examination with a dilated pupil. In addition to the usual clinical data collection, severity of age-related maculopathy was graded by an ophthalmologist who used standard clinical criteria and was masked to the participants' descriptions of visual functioning and health-related quality of life. All participants completed an interview that included the Activities of Daily Vision Scale, a survey designed to assess difficulties with routine daily activities that require vision, and the Short Form-36 Health Survey, a generic measure of multidimensional health-related quality of life.

Results: Severity of age-related maculopathy was associated with poorer scores of the Activities of Daily Vision Scale. This association was most significant for near vision and driving activities. In this sample, the SF-36 Health Survey scales were not significantly correlated with severity of age-related maculopathy.

Conclusions: Reported visual functioning is significantly associated with the clinical severity of age-related maculopathy. However, once visual acuity is taken into consideration, clinical grading of age-related maculopathy did not explain a significant portion of the variation in visual functioning. The lack of significant correlation between severity of age-related maculopathy and the SF-36 Health Survey may have resulted from the small number of participants in our sample with severe bilateral age-related maculopathy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Aged
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Services Research
  • Health Status
  • Health Surveys*
  • Humans
  • Macular Degeneration / classification
  • Macular Degeneration / physiopathology*
  • Male
  • Prospective Studies
  • Quality of Life*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Visual Acuity / physiology*