WHEN THE TIME IS RIGHT: REASONS WHY OLDER ADULTS WITH LOW VISION ARE WITHOUT LOW VISION SERVICES

Title WHEN THE TIME IS RIGHT: REASONS WHY OLDER ADULTS WITH LOW VISION ARE WITHOUT LOW VISION SERVICES
Author, Co-Author Marlee Spafford, Debbie Laliberte Rudman, Beverly Leipert, Lisa Klinger, Suzanne Huot
Topic
Year
2006
Day
Program Number
065093
Room
Affiliation
University of Waterloo, School of Optometry and Vision Science
Abstract PURPOSE: Low vision rates are increasing with the aging North American population. While low vision services can help to offset the negative impacts of low vision on people’s quality of life, their utilization rates remain below 15% in Canada. We sought to understand some of the reasons why rural and urban older Canadian adults with low vision have not yet accessed low vision services.

METHODS: We audio-recorded and transcribed 36 interviews of older adults with low vision who had not accessed low vision services (range: 70 to 94 yrs; mean: 82 yrs). All participants were under the care of an optometrist and/or an ophthalmologist and lived within 100km of a city (population ~340,000) in southwestern Ontario. Rural denoted a population less than 10,000. The data were analyzed using an inductive phenomenological approach.

RESULTS: Rural and urban participants discussed 5 reasons why they had not accessed low vision services: their vision was not bad enough; their vision could not be helped; their eye doctors would recommend aids if they needed them; they did not know what low vision services existed or who provided them; and they did not know where to find low vision information. Reluctance to access low vision services seemed connected to a desire to remain independent and avoid being treated as ‘blind’.

CONCLUSIONS: While the study participants acknowledged that low vision impacted their quality of life, they had not yet accessed low vision services. An expectation of a doctor-centered approach to eye care existed among these older adults who assumed eye doctors initiate help when needed. Eye care practitioners may want to increase patient education and adopt a more patient-centered approach with their older patients who have low vision. Rural-urban nuanced differences in patient perspectives may also affect how older patients approach low vision care.

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: This study was supported by the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) - E.A. Baker Research Fund.
Affiliation of Co-Authors The University of Western Ontario, The University of Western Ontario, The University of Western Ontario, The University of Western Ontario
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