Vision-targeted health related quality of life in older adults: Patient-reported visibility problems in low luminance activities are more likely to decline than daytime activities

Academic Article


  • Background: Commonly used vision-targeted health-related quality of life questionnaires almost exclusively focus items on vision under daytime conditions. Older adults even when in good eye health frequently report experiencing vision problems at night and under low environmental light levels, and psychophysical studies also document these visibility problems. Here we compare the progression of self-reported low luminance visibility problems and self-reported visibility problems under daytime conditions in older adults. Methods: Trained interviewers administered two questionnaires to older adults in normal eye health: the National Eye Institute Visual Function Questionnaire - 25 (NEI VFQ-25) where items are almost entirely focused on difficulties in daytime activities, and the Low Luminance Questionnaire (LLQ) where items are focused on difficulties seeing at night and under low luminance conditions. The following visual functions were also measured: visual acuity, low luminance visual acuity, low luminance deficit, contrast sensitivity, light sensitivity in the macula, and rod-mediated dark adaptation. The protocol was repeated 3 years later. Results: Scores on the NEI VFQ-25 composite and its subscales were unchanged between baseline and 3-year follow-up, whereas scores on the LLQ composite and 5 of 6 subscales significantly decreased (corresponding to less functionality) at the 3-year follow-up. Participants were more likely to display a ≥ 5 point decrease on the LLQ composite than on the NEI VFQ-25 over 3 years. Visual functional tests were largely unrelated to changes in NEI VFQ-25 and LLQ scores from baseline to follow-up. Conclusions: Older adults' vision-targeted quality of life as measured by questionnaire is more likely to exhibit a practically significant decrease over 3 years using a questionnaire that focused on low luminance activities (LLQ) than one focused on daytime activities (NEI VFQ-25). That the results of visual functional testing did not correspond to older adults' decline in self-reported problems in low luminance activities emphasizes the importance of questionnaires in understanding visual difficulties from the patients' own perspective.
  • Published In

  • BMC Ophthalmology  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Owsley C; McGwin G
  • Volume

  • 16
  • Issue

  • 1