Purpose: To define vision-related quality of life, to outline the development of a vision-specific quality of life instrument and to present the characteristics of a 10-item 'core' questionnaire.
Method: A standard method included: 1. Generation of relevant issues by individual interviews with 38 visually impaired adults, consultation with 37 professionals and support workers and literature review. 2. Operationalisation, involving 58 ophthalmic patients. 3. Pre-testing, to maximise face validity and content validity, involving 184 individuals with a variety of different visual problems and social backgrounds. 4. Adoption of a modular approach to item selection. 5. Formal piloting in 92 individuals to establish reliability and construct validity.
Results: More than 232 items were tested of which 139 were considered suitable for a final question pool or 'parent' questionnaire (the VQOL). From this parent questionnaire individual items or groups of items can be selected. Ten broadly applicable items referring to physical, social and psychological issues were selected for the core questionnaire (the VCM1). The VCM1 has high reliability (alpha = 0.93) and validity.
Conclusions: Any self-reported problem relating to vision may constitute a quality of life issue. A modular approach to item selection may provide the flexibility to investigate vision-related quality of life in a wide range of clinical settings, allowing detailed assessment of specific problems and also cross-study comparisons where appropriate.