Depression in the elderly with visual impairment and its association with quality of life

Clin Interv Aging. 2013:8:931-43. doi: 10.2147/CIA.S27717. Epub 2013 Jul 19.


Background: Visual impairment is more prevalent in the elderly and depression is common in this population. Although many studies have investigated depression or quality of life (QOL) in older adults with visual impairment, few have looked at the association between these two concepts for this population. The aim of this systematized review was to describe the association between depression and QOL in older adults with visual impairment.

Methods: A search was done using multiple electronic databases for studies addressing the relationship between QOL and depression in elders with visual impairment. The concept of QOL was divided into two different approaches, ie, QOL as achievement and QOL as subjective well-being. Comparison of QOL scores between participants with and without depression (Cohen's d) and correlations between depression and QOL (Pearson's r) were examined.

Results: Thirteen studies reported in 18 articles were included in the review. Nearly all of the studies revealed that better QOL was moderately to strongly correlated with less severe depressive symptoms (r = 0.22-0.68 for QOL as achievement; r = 0.68 and 0.72 for QOL as subjective well-being). Effect sizes for the QOL differences between the groups with and without depression ranged from small to large (d = 0.17 to 0.95 for QOL as achievement; no data for QOL as subjective well-being).

Conclusion: Additional studies are necessary to pinpoint further the determinants and mediators of this relationship. Considering the high prevalence rate of depression in this community and its disabling effects on QOL, interventions to prevent and treat depression are essential. More efforts are needed in clinical settings to train health care practitioners to identify depressed elders with visual impairment and provide appropriate treatment.

Keywords: depressive symptoms; disability; health-related quality of life; older adults; subjective well-being; vision-related quality of life.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Depression / psychology*
  • Geriatric Assessment
  • Humans
  • Quality of Life*
  • Risk Factors
  • Vision Disorders / psychology*