Emotional well-being and adjustment to vision loss in later life: a meta-synthesis of qualitative studies

Disabil Rehabil. 2012;34(12):971-81. doi: 10.3109/09638288.2011.626487. Epub 2011 Nov 8.


Purpose: To review perceived emotional well-being in older people with visual impairment and perceived factors that inhibit/facilitate psychosocial adjustment to vision loss.

Method: The databases of MEDLINE, EMBASE, PsycINFO and CINAHL were searched for studies published from January 1980 to December 2010, which recruited older people with irreversible vision loss, and used qualitative methods for both data collection and analysis. Results sections of the papers were synthesised using a thematic-style analysis to identify the emergent and dominant themes.

Results: Seventeen qualitative papers were included in the review, and five main themes emerged from the synthesis: 1) the trauma of an ophthalmic diagnosis, 2) impact of vision loss on daily life, 3) negative impact of visual impairment on psychosocial well-being, 4) factors that inhibit social well-being, and 5) factors that facilitate psychological well-being. We found the response shift model useful for explaining our synthesis.

Conclusions: Acquired visual impairment can have a significant impact on older people's well-being and make psychosocial adjustment to the condition a major challenge. Acceptance of the condition and a positive attitude facilitate successful psychosocial adjustment to vision loss as well as social support from family, friends and peers who have successfully adjusted to the condition.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Blindness / psychology*
  • Emotions*
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Personal Satisfaction
  • Qualitative Research
  • Quality of Life / psychology*
  • Self Concept*
  • Sickness Impact Profile
  • Social Adjustment