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Vision Channel
Reported January 15, 2004

Measuring the Effects of Vision Loss

(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- People who suffer from diabetic retinopathy (DR) report significant restrictions resulting from their condition, report researchers who conducted a study published in this month’s issue of the Archives of Ophthalmology.

When the visual acuity in the better eye drops below 20/40, many patients begin to experience ill effects.

Diabetic retinopathy is a major cause of vision loss among adults. About 22 percent to 36 percent of all diabetics in the United States and Australia suffer from the condition. Vision impairment caused by the disease often leads to dependency in activities of daily living, social isolation, and reduced physical activity.

This study compared lifestyle restrictions for 45 patients with diabetic retinopathy with an average age of about 67. Nearly 70 percent had worse than 20/60 vision in the better eye and the rest had worse than 20/40. All filled out standard questionnaires aimed at measuring the impact of their vision loss on their ability to participate in normal life activities. The median length of time patients had suffered from vision loss was two years.

Results show vision loss stemming from diabetic retinopathy had the biggest impact on reading print, mobility, work, and leisure. Vision loss had a lesser effect on emotional reaction to vision loss and household and personal care areas.

The authors say programs designed to help diabetic retinopathy patients deal with their loss of vision could improve quality of life for these patients. They write, “Based on our findings, low-vision rehabilitation services with programs aiming to improve outdoor mobility, print reading, participation in leisure activities, and psychological health could be an effective strategy to help individuals with DR increase their participation in activities of daily living.”

This article was reported by Ivanhoe.com, who offers Medical Alerts by e-mail every day of the week. To subscribe, go to: /newsalert/.

SOURCE: Archives of Ophthalmology, 2003;2004;122:84-88

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