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Impact of unilateral and bilateral vision loss on quality of life
  1. H T V Vu1,
  2. J E Keeffe1,
  3. C A McCarty2,
  4. H R Taylor1
  1. 1Centre for Eye Research Australia, University of Melbourne, 32 Gisborne Street, East Melbourne, Vic 3002, Australia
  2. 2Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation, 1000 North Oak Avenue (ML1), Marshfield WI 54449, USA
  1. Correspondence to: Hien T V Vu Centre for Eye Research Australia, University of Melbourne, 32 Gisborne Street, East Melbourne, Vicoria 3002, Australia;


Aim: To investigate whether unilateral vision loss reduced any aspects of quality of life in comparison with normal vision and to compare its impact with that of bilateral vision loss.

Methods: This study used cluster stratified random sample of 3271 urban participants recruited between 1992 and 1994 for the Melbourne Visual Impairment Project. All predictors and outcomes were from the 5 year follow up examinations conducted in 1997–9.

Results: There were 2530 participants who attended the follow up survey and had measurement of presenting visual acuity. Both unilateral and bilateral vision loss were significantly associated with increased odds of having problems in visual functions including reading the telephone book, newspaper, watching television, and seeing faces. Non-correctable by refraction unilateral vision loss increased the odds of falling when away from home (OR = 2.86, 95% CI 1.16 to 7.08), getting help with chores (OR = 3.09, 95% CI 1.40 to 6.83), and becoming dependent (getting help with meals and chores) (OR = 7.50, 95% CI 1.97 to 28.6). Non-correctable bilateral visual loss was associated with many activities of daily living except falling.

Conclusions: Non-correctable unilateral vision loss was associated with issues of safety and independent living while non-correctable bilateral vision loss was associated with nursing home placement, emotional wellbeing, use of community services, and activities of daily living. Correctable or treatable vision loss should be detected and attended to.

  • unilateral vision loss
  • bilateral vision loss
  • quality of life

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  • Competing interests: None declared.

  • Ethical approval: The protocol was approved by the Human Research and Ethics Committee of the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital.

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