Aims To examine the relationship between vision impairment (VI) and employment outcomes in a multiethnic Asian population.
Methods We included 7608 Asian individuals aged ≥40 years (mean (SD) age: 58.4 (10.3) years; 64.8% male) from the Singapore Epidemiology Eye Disease Study (response rate: 78.8%), a population-based cohort study (mean follow-up period: 6.2 years). Presenting visual acuity (VA) was assessed using a logarithm of the minimum angle of resolution (logMAR) chart, with VI defined as mild (VA >0.3 to <0.6 logMAR) and moderate to severe (VA ≥0.6 logMAR). Self-reported employment statuses at both baseline and follow-up were used as outcomes. Underemployment was defined as a decline in occupational skill level, categorised by International Standard Classification of Occupations, at follow-up compared with baseline. Multinomial logistic regression models were used to determine independent associations between VI and various employment outcomes, adjusted for variables that were found to significantly differ across employment statuses.
Results Presenting VI was prevalent in 20.2% (N=1536) of participants. Compared with those without VI, participants with mild and moderate to severe VI were more likely to be unemployed at baseline (OR 1.47, 95% CI 1.15 to 1.87, p=0.002 and 2.74, 95% CI 1.94 to 3.89, p<0.001, respectively). At follow-up, participants with any VI at baseline were more likely to be underemployed (OR 1.46, 95% CI 1.03 to 2.05, p=0.033).
Conclusion VI, even when mild, is associated with unemployment and underemployment. Future studies should investigate whether visual interventions could be used as part of a multipronged strategy to improve employment outcomes for the population.
Data availability statement
Data are available on reasonable request.
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Contributors Conceptualisation: ELL and REKM. Data curation: ATLG, EKF, DQYQ, CQ, TYW, C-YC, ELL and REKM. Methodology: YXC, ATLG, AYS, BKJT and REKM. Formal Analysis and validation: ATLG, YXC, AYS, BKJT and REKM. Drafting of manuscript: YXC, AYS, BKJT, ATLG. Review and editing of manuscript: YXC, ATLG, EKF, AYS, BKJT, DQYQ, CQ, TYW, C-YC, ELL and REKM. Funding acquisition: TYW, C-YC and ELL. Supervision: ELL and REKM.
Funding ELL is supported by the National Medical Research Council (NMRC) Senior-Clinician Scientist Award (#NMRC/CSASI/0009/2016), and REKM is supported by the NMRC Transition Award (#MOH-TA19may-0002).
Disclaimer The funding bodies had no role in the design and conduct of this research.
Competing interests None declared.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
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