Background: Information is lacking on the impact of visual impairment on the quality of life of elderly Africans. This study aims to examine the impact of self reported visual impairment on the quality life of an elderly Nigerian sample.
Methods: A multi-stage stratified sampling of households was implemented to select persons aged 65 years and over (n = 2054) in the south-western and north-central parts of Nigeria. Impairments of distant and near vision were based on subjective self-reports obtained with the use of items derived from the World Health Organization (WHO) multi-country World Health Survey questionnaire. Estimates of quality of life scores were made for normal sighted and visually impaired individuals using the WHO Quality of Life instrument, brief version (WHOQoL-Bref) .
Results: Four hundred and fifty three (22.3%) of the respondents reported impairment for distant vision, 377 (18.4%) for near vision while 312 (15.2) reported impairment for both far and near. Impairment of near vision had a significant impact on all domains of quality of life. Distant vision had less impact, with significant decrement only in the domain of environment. After adjusting for the possible effects of age, sex, and co-occurring chronic physical illness, near vision impairment accounted for 3.92% decrement in the overall quality of life of elderly persons.
Conclusion: Impairment of vision is associated with significant decrement in diverse areas of quality of life in this elderly sample. Problems with near vision were nevertheless more likely than those of distant vision to affect quality of life.