Context: In India, where the heavy burden of visual impairment exists, low vision services are scarce and under-utilized.
Aims: Our study was designed to survey the effectiveness of low vision exams and visual aids in improving patient quality of life in southern rural India.
Subjects and methods: The low vision quality of life (LVQOL) questionnaire measures vision-related quality of life through 25 questions on a Likert scale of 0-5 that pertain to (1) mobility, distance vision, and lighting; (2) psychological adjustment; (3) reading and fine work; and (4) activities of daily living. This tool was translated into Tamil and verbally administered to 55 new low vision referral patients before their first visit at the low vision clinic at Aravind Eye Hospital. Low vision aids (LVAs) were prescribed at the discretion of the low vision specialist. 1-month later, the same questionnaire was administered over the phone.
Results: About 44 of 55 low vision patients completed baseline and follow-up LVQOL surveys, and 30 normal vision controls matched for age, gender, and education were also surveyed (average 117.34 points). After the low vision clinic visit, the low vision group demonstrated a 4.55-point improvement in quality of life (from 77.77 to 82.33 points, P = 0.001). Adjusting for age, gender, and education, the low vision patients who also received LVAs (n = 24) experienced an even larger increase than those who did not (n = 20) (8.89 points, P < 0.001).
Conclusion: Low vision services and visual aids can improve the quality of life in South Indian rural population regardless of age, gender, and education level. Thus, all low vision patients who meet the criteria should be referred for evaluation.