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Formal and informal care utilisation amongst elderly persons with visual impairment
  1. Kathleen M Ke (kathleen_ke{at},
  2. Anne-Marie Montgomery,
  3. Michael Stevenson (m.stevenson{at},
  4. Ciaran E O'Neill (ciaran.oneill{at},
  5. Usha Chakravarthy (u.chakravarthy{at}
  1. University of Ulster, United Kingdom
  2. Queen's University Belfast, United Kingdom
  3. Queen's University Belfast, United Kingdom
  4. Queen's University Belfast, United Kingdom
  5. Queen's University Belfast, United Kingdom


    Objective: To examine the determinants of formal and informal care utilisation amongst persons with AMD.

    Design: Cross sectional hospital based study.

    Setting: Hospital eye clinic in Northern Ireland.

    Participants: 284 persons aged 50 years and above.

    Main outcome measures: Participants were asked questions about their care, living arrangements, eyesight-related ability to self-care, and eyesight- related need to be more careful whilst undertaking everyday tasks.

    Results: The percentage of older persons receiving formal and informal care rose with the level of visual impairment. 34.9% and 37.3% of those with no visual impairment received formal and informal care respectively compared with 51.6% and 69.9% of those with moderate visual impairment and 55.6% and 88.9% of those with severe visual impairment. Three factors - age, best corrected distance visual acuity in the better eye, and living alone - were significant predictors (p < 0.05) of care utilisation. The likelihood of a person utilising formal care rose with increasing age, severity of visual impairment and living alone. There is an approximate one-to-one trade-off between age and visual acuity such that a difference in one line of vision is equivalent to approximately one year of life to the affected individual in terms of its impact on the probability of care utilisation.

    Conclusions: Care utilization is predicted by age, visual acuity in the better eye, and living arrangement. These findings question the validity of the current practice of defining the need for statutory services on the basis of visual acuity alone. These data may have implications for cost utility analyses of new therapeutic developments in macular degeneration.

    • age-related macular degeneration
    • care utilisation
    • visual impairment

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