Objective: To examine the associations of measures of quality of life (Medical Outcomes Study Short Form Health Survey) and functional activities (activities of daily living, instrumental activities of daily living, and visual function) in persons with and without age-related eye diseases.
Methods: Two thousand, six hundred seventy persons participated in the 1998 through 2000 examinations of both the Beaver Dam Eye Study and the Epidemiology of Hearing Loss Study. Age-related eye disease (age-related maculopathy, cataract, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, macula edema, occlusions, amblyopia, and macular holes) were assessed by fundus, slitlamp, and retroilluminated photographs and self-reported ocular history. Also administered was a standard interview that included the Medical Outcomes Study Short Form Health Survey, activities of daily living, instrumental activities of daily living, and visual function questionnaires and information on other medical conditions.
Results: After controlling for age and sex, we found that persons with an age-related eye disease had decreased scores in almost all the domains of the Medical Outcomes Study Short Form Health Survey, and persons with eye disease in both eyes had poorer scores than persons with eye disease in only 1 eye. Stratifying by age-related maculopathy and central cataract yielded similar results. Further adjustment for current visual acuity and the number of comorbid conditions explained most associations. Several of the mental scales were still marginally significantly lower (P<.10) in persons with age-related maculopathy after adjustment. Persons with an age-related eye disease were not more likely to have impaired activities of daily living or instrumental activities of daily living. After adjustment for current visual acuity and number of comorbidities, persons who had trouble reading small print or recognizing people across the street were more likely to have an age-related eye disease. Otherwise, there were no significant associations with the visual function questions and any of the specific ocular conditions.
Conclusions: Many measures of general quality of life and functional activities were related to age-related eye diseases, but few associations remained significant after adjustments for vision and other comorbidities. Our data are compatible with the notion that decreased visual function, irrespective of the pathologic reason for the decrease, is associated with diminished quality of life and functional activities of living.