Objective: To estimate the relative contributions of central vision loss and general health to vision-targeted quality of life as measured by the National Eye Institute Visual Function Questionnaire (NEI-VFQ).
Methods: Data on quality of life (NEI-VFQ and the 36-Item Short-Form Health Survey [SF-36]) and visual acuity were collected as part of the Submacular Surgery Trials Pilot Study. Information on medical conditions was collected by patient chart review. Twenty-four-month data for 120 patients were analyzed using linear regression methods.
Results: Median patient age at the 24-month examination was 77 years; 60% were women, and 98% were non-Hispanic whites. A 3-line decrement in visual acuity in the better-seeing eye was associated with a 5.1- to 17.1-point decrement in NEI-VFQ scores after adjustment for general health (SF-36 physical component summary [PCS] and mental component summary [MCS] scores). A 10-point decrement in the PCS score was associated with a 4- to 9-point decrement in NEI-VFQ scores after adjustment for visual acuity in the better-seeing eye and MCS score. A 10-point decrement in the MCS score was associated with a 4- to 8-point decrement in NEI-VFQ scores after adjustment for visual acuity in the better-seeing eye and PCS score. Diabetes, arthritis/rheumatism, and hypertension also had large effects on NEI-VFQ scores in the adjusted analysis.
Conclusions: The NEI-VFQ is sensitive to differences in visual acuity in the better-seeing eye, as expected, and to differences in general health. Adjustment for general health should be considered when comparing NEI-VFQ scores between patient groups.