Background: There has been increasing interest in the use of measures of health related quality of life (HRQoL) and health state utility values in Age Related Macular Degeneration (ARMD). Visual acuity has been found to be an important determinant of such measures in previous studies. More recently, another measure of visual impairment, contrast sensitivity has received considerable attention. We designed a study to examine whether the contribution of contrast sensitivity in explaining HRQoL and health utilities over and above that of visual acuity.
Methods: 209 patients with unilateral or bilateral ARMD were recruited into a cross-sectional study of patients from a large teaching hospital. Patients underwent visual tests (near and distant visual acuity, contrast sensitivity) and completed a vision function questionnaire, the VF-14, HUI3, and time trade-off.
Results: Using multivariate regression analysis, the study revealed that contrast sensitivity remained a statistically significant predictor of all outcome measures even when visual acuity was included. This result was supported by the correlation coefficients between measures.
Conclusions: The measurement of contrast sensitivity appears to be better related to a person's HRQoL and health utility. Future studies should consider incorporating contrast sensitivity in addition to visual acuity. Studies, in particular economic evaluations, may underestimate the effect of treatment unless contrast sensitivity is considered.