Prevalence and 11-year incidence of common eye diseases and their relation to health-related quality of life, mental health, and visual impairment

Qual Life Res. 2021 Aug;30(8):2311-2327. doi: 10.1007/s11136-021-02817-1. Epub 2021 Mar 23.


Purpose: To study the prevalence and incidence of the most common eye diseases and their relation to health-related quality of life (HRQoL), depression, psychological distress, and visual impairment in the aging population of Finland.

Methods: Our study was based on two nationwide health surveys conducted in 2000 and 2011. Eye disease status data were obtained from 7379 and 5710 individuals aged 30 + years, of whom 4620 partook in both time points. Both surveys included identical indicators of HRQoL (EuroQol-5 Dimension [EQ-5D], 15D), depression (Beck Depression Inventory [BDI]), psychological distress (General Health Questionnaire-12 [GHQ-12]), visual acuity, and self-reported eye diseases. We assessed the impact of known eye diseases on these factors, adjusted for age, gender, and co-morbidities.

Results: Prevalence of self-reported eye diseases was 3.1/2.7% for glaucoma, 8.1/11.4% for cataract, and 3.4/3.8% for retinal degeneration in 2000 and 2011, and the average incidence between 2000 and 2011 was 22, 109, and 35 /year/10,000 individuals, respectively. These eye diseases were associated with a significant decrease in EQ-5D and 15D index scores in both time points. BDI and GHQ-12 scores were also worsened, with some variation between different eye diseases. Impaired vision was, however, the strongest determinant of declined HRQoL. During the 11-year follow-up the effect of eye diseases on HRQoL and mental health diminished.

Conclusion: Declined HRQoL associated with eye diseases is more related to impaired vision than the awareness of the disease itself, and this declining effect diminished during the follow-up. Therefore, information directed to the public on the risks and prevention of blindness can and should be strengthened to prevent the deleterious effects of visual impairment.

Keywords: Eye disease; Health-related quality of life; Incidence; Mental health; Prevalence; Visual impairment.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Eye Diseases* / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Glaucoma* / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Mental Health
  • Prevalence
  • Quality of Life / psychology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Vision, Low*