Looking at quality of life in visually impaired children

Vision loss can affect one’s daily function and quality of life (QOL), but few research studies have actually looked at the impact of visual impairments on children’s quality of life.

An Emory project aims to develop an instrument that will measure the effect of vision loss on the quality of life of children age 8 to 18.

Pictured from left to right: J. Devn Cornish, MD, professor and vice chair, Department of Pediatrics, Emory University School of Medicine; Andy Lovas, grand recorder, Knights Templar Eye Foundation; Sheila Angeles-Han, MD, MSc, assistant professor, Pediatric Rheumatology and Immunology, Emory University School of Medicine; Larry Vogler, MD, division chief, Pediatric Rheumatology and Immunology, Emory University School of Medicine; and Tim Taylor, director of marketing, Knights Templar Eye Foundation

The project is being led by Emory pediatric rheumatologist Sheila Angeles-Han, MD, MSc. Han recently received a $40,000 grant from the Knights Templar Eye Foundation to augment her work in this area. She is collaborating with pediatric ophthalmologists at the Emory Eye Center.

Currently, there are no validated questionnaires or tools to determine how children in these age groups cope with their visual impairments and the impact of vision loss on their daily lives. This knowledge can enhance physicians’ understanding of diseases that affect vision.

Han’s instrument, “Effects of Youngsters’ Eyesight on Quality of Life (EYE-Q),” would help assess the performance of visually impaired children’s daily activities in the home and at school. These include activities such as seeing the blackboard and reading schoolbooks. Children and adolescents with wide-ranging vision would complete questionnaires that evaluate how difficult it is for them to perform these specific activities at home and school.

Han’s study will also determine if the EYE-Q tool accurately measures visual function and detects differences in function based on eye impairment.

“Interestingly, there are questionnaires and instruments available for determining quality of life for visually impaired children ages 7 and under as well as for adults,” says Han, Division of Pediatric Rheumatology, Emory-Children’s Center.

“This evaluation is important not just for children age 8 to 18 but also in the determination of treatment outcome and disease impact and identification of individuals at risk for disease adjustment difficulties,” she notes. “Only by learning about the effects of eye involvement will we be able to develop improved interventions to ensure that children have the best opportunities to lead normal lives.”

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