Low vision rehabilitation, health-related quality of life and related factors among older adults with visual impairments: a two-year mixed methods follow-up study.

Thesis event information

Date and time of the thesis defence

Place of the thesis defence

Remote access: https://oulu.zoom.us/j/68956637050?pwd=ckpVNVlQZnBFbVRrQy9NS0tiVGk1QT09

Topic of the dissertation

Low vision rehabilitation, health-related quality of life and related factors among older adults with visual impairments: a two-year mixed methods follow-up study.

Doctoral candidate

Master of Health Sciences Heidi Siira

Faculty and unit

University of Oulu Graduate School, Faculty of Medicine, Research Unit of Nursing Science and Health Management /GeroNursing Centre

Subject of study

Nursing science

Opponent

Docent Sini Eloranta, Turku University of Applied Sciences

Custos

Professor Helvi Kyngäs, Research Unit of Nursing Science and Health Management

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Quality of life of older adults with visual impairments and low vision rehabilitation

Vision problems are common among older adults, and more and more people are affected by visual impairment while they age. It is estimated that there are about 50 000 visually impaired people in Finland, most of whom are older adults. The most common cause of visual impairment is macular degeneration. Visual impairment threatens the well-being, functional capacity and quality of life of older adults. Low vision rehabilitation can help and support visually impaired people in many different ways.

According to the study, visual impairment impaired the health-related quality of life of studied older adults compared to the general population. The health-related quality of life of the study participants decreased slightly on average during the follow-up period but remained at a reasonable level. Individual differences in adapting to visual impairment, understanding the nature of low vision rehabilitation, and assessments of quality of life were great. The proper functioning of memory and the clarity and consistency of thinking appeared to be a resource for the study participants in everyday life. Participants were fairly active and satisfied with their living environment although visual impairment limited life too much to home and its immediate surroundings and reduced social participation and interaction. Visually impaired older adults faced many practical difficulties in their daily lives, but Individual and diverse low vision rehabilitation met these needs, while desired active participation in society was less supported. Low vision rehabilitation focused on visual aids and assistive devices aids as well as support services while less attention was paid to supporting adaptation to visual impairment and the psychosocial disadvantages of visual impairment. Visually impaired older adults found low vision rehabilitation to be beneficial to their well-being and quality of life a year after it began.

Research related to visual impairment and especially low vision rehabilitation is rare in Finland. In this dissertation in the field of nursing science, the visually impaired older adults (n = 39) living in Northern Finland, the resulting difficulties in everyday life, the quality of life and home environment were studied. In addition, the study described low vision rehabilitation and the participants´ experiences of it. The study was a two-year follow-up study. Research data was collected by using various instruments, interviews, and patient records.

The study enriches the scarce field of disability research from a nursing perspective and complements the picture of visual impairment among older adults created by previous research. The study is groundbreaking in 21st century low vision rehabilitation research in Finland. The new knowledge produced by the study can be utilized in the development of individual low vision rehabilitation processes and in supporting active and successful aging in place despite challenges due to a disability.
Last updated: 27.4.2021