Impact of visual impairment on service and device use by individuals with diabetic retinopathy

Disabil Rehabil. 2009;31(8):659-65. doi: 10.1080/09638280802239391.


Purpose: This study was performed to assess the use of devices and caregiving among individuals with diabetic retinopathy and to evaluate the impact of visual acuity on use.

Methods: Data were collected using a questionnaire that included items on demographic and clinical characteristics and on the use of services, assistive devices, and caregiving. The study was approved by an institutional review board. Two ophthalmologists identified and invited patients with diabetic retinopathy and provided best corrected visual acuity (BCVA). Patients provided informed consent. De-identified data were analysed in SAS(R).

Results: Of the 806 respondents, 55% were women; mean age was 65 years. Respondents were classified into five categories based on BCVA. Few respondents used services such as transportation and counseling, but there was wide use of assistive devices. More than 20% of respondents used a cane, a hand-held magnifier, and/or special glasses. The mean number of devices used increased significantly as BCVA deteriorated, as did hours of caregiving. Annual costs for services, devices, and caregiving increased as BCVA deteriorated.

Conclusions: There are substantial differences in the use and costs of assistive devices and caregiving among individuals with diabetic retinopathy with varying BCVA.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls / statistics & numerical data
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Caregivers / economics
  • Caregivers / statistics & numerical data*
  • Costs and Cost Analysis
  • Diabetic Retinopathy / economics
  • Diabetic Retinopathy / physiopathology
  • Diabetic Retinopathy / rehabilitation*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Self-Help Devices / economics
  • Self-Help Devices / statistics & numerical data*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States
  • Vision Disorders / economics
  • Vision Disorders / physiopathology
  • Vision Disorders / rehabilitation*
  • Visual Acuity / physiology