May 2006
Volume 47, Issue 13
ARVO Annual Meeting Abstract  |   May 2006
Visually Impaired Caregivers
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • B. Martinez
    Birmingham VAMC, Birmingham, AL
    School of Optometry, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL
  • M. Williams
    RR&D, Atlanta VAMC, Atlanta, GA
  • P.S. Fuhr
    Birmingham VAMC, Birmingham, AL
    Blind Rehab,
    School of Optometry, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL
  • Footnotes
    Commercial Relationships  B. Martinez, None; M. Williams, None; P.S. Fuhr, None.
  • Footnotes
    Support  Grant from Atlanta VA RR&D
Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science May 2006, Vol.47, 5836. doi:
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      B. Martinez, M. Williams, P.S. Fuhr; Visually Impaired Caregivers . Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2006;47(13):5836.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Purpose: : We typically think of those with visual impairment as being given care by another. However, with the aging of the population, more persons who are severely visually impaired are now caring for a spouse or significant other. Very little is known about visually impaired caregivers, and there is a dearth of literature on them. The purpose of this pilot study is to learn more about visually impaired persons who are also serving as the primary caregiver for an ailing or disabled spouse or family member. This vulnerable population of visually impaired caregivers have unique demands placed upon them in which the difficulties of vision loss, (which typically result in diminished function and independence), are combined with the extraordinary multiple burdens that caregiving duties often entail.

Methods: : Convenience sample of legally blind caregivers (N=8) who presented sequentially to VA clinics in the Southeastern US. All were interviewed by telephone and administered an array of survey instruments to assess caregiver demographic characteristics (VA D–Base Demographic Survey), functional abilities (NEI VFQ–25 with appendices, and VA– LV VFQ), caregiving responsibilities and burden associated with this role (CRA and Burden Interview), along with overall health and well–being (SF–12, CES–D).

Results: : The average age of the visually impaired (VI) caregivers was 81.63. The VI caregiver sample exhibited low to moderate burden with disrupted schedule (mean 3.45), financial problems (mean 2.38), and lack of family support (mean 1.98) subscales of the CRA being the most impacted. 50% of the VI caregivers indicated potential clinical depression (CED–D score of 16 or lower) and 100% of the sample revealed reduced physical function (SF–12 PCS score of 50 or lower). The average NEI–VFQ 25 composite score was 60.32, indicating poor vision–specific HRQOL.

Conclusions: : Further studies are needed to determine the specific challenges faced by this the unique population.

Keywords: low vision • aging 

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