Low vision status and declining vision decrease Health-Related Quality of Life: Results from a nationwide 11-year follow-up study

Qual Life Res. 2019 Dec;28(12):3225-3236. doi: 10.1007/s11136-019-02260-3. Epub 2019 Aug 10.


Purpose: The impact of visual acuity (VA) on Health-Related Quality of Life (HRQoL) and the cross-sectional and longitudinal differences in HRQoL during the 11-year follow-up were investigated. The aim was to examine the impact declining vision has on HRQoL and to provide comparable data to facilitate the allocation of health-care resources.

Methods: We utilized nationwide health examination surveys carried out by the National Institute for Health and Welfare in 2000 and 2011, providing a representative sampling of the Finnish adult population aged 30 and older. VA was assessed through Snellen E test, and HRQoL scores were evaluated using EQ-5D and 15D questionnaires. Multiple imputations with Markov chain Monte Carlo method was used to utilize the data more effectively. Regression analyses were conducted to assess the impact of declining VA on HRQoL, adjusted for incident comorbidities.

Results: Lower VA status was associated with significantly lower HRQoL at both time points, most clearly observable below the VA level of 0.5. Declining VA resulted in statistically significant decline in HRQoL during the follow-up, greater with distance than near VA. 15D impairment associated with decline in the distance VA was also clinically meaningful and greater than that associated with any of the examined comorbidities.

Conclusions: HRQoL was significantly and meaningfully impaired even before the threshold of severe vision loss or blindness was reached. The results encourage the improvement of available treatment options aiming to postpone the onset of visual impairment or declining VA, to maintain better quality of life among the population.

Keywords: Epidemiology; Follow-up study; Population-based study; Quality of life; Visual acuity.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Finland
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Health Status*
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Quality of Life / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Vision, Low / epidemiology*
  • Vision, Low / psychology
  • Vision, Ocular / physiology*
  • Visual Acuity / physiology*