Psychological distress and visual functioning in relation to vision-related disability in older individuals with cataracts

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To determine whether demographic, health status and psychological functioning measures, in addition to impaired visual acuity, are related to vision-related disability.


Participants were 105 individuals (mean age = 73.7 years) with cataracts requiring surgery and corrected visual acuity in the better eye of 6/24 to 6/36 were recruited from waiting lists at three public out-patient ophthalmology clinics. Visual disability was measured with the Visual Functioning-14 survey. Visual acuity was assessed using better and worse eye logMAR scores and the Melbourne Edge Test (MET) for edge contrast sensitivity. Data relating to demographic information, depression, anxiety and stress, health care and medication use and numbers of co-morbid conditions were obtained.


Principal component analysis revealed four meaningful factors that accounted for 75% of the variance in visual disability: recreational activities, reading and fine work, activities of daily living and driving behaviour. Multiple regression analyses determined that visual acuity variables were the only significant predictors of overall vision-related functioning and difficulties with reading and fine work. For the remaining visual disability domains, non-visual factors were also significant predictors. Difficulties with recreational activities were predicted by stress, as well as worse eye visual acuity, and difficulties with activities of daily living were associated with self-reported health status, age and depression as well as MET contrast scores. Driving behaviour was associated with sex (with fewer women driving), depression, anxiety and stress scores, and MET contrast scores.


Vision-related disability is common in older individuals with cataracts. In addition to visual acuity, demographic, psychological and health status factors influence the severity of vision-related disability, affecting recreational activities, activities of daily living and driving.

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