PURPOSE: To investigate the functional status and quality of life of patients at a low-vision clinic and to evaluate the impact of low-vision services. METHODS: Interviews, including the Medical Outcomes Study 36-Item Short Form (SF-36), the Visual Function-14 (VF-14), and the 51-item Field Test Version of the National Eye Institute Visual Functioning Questionnaire (NEI-VFQ), were administered to 156 consecutive patients 1 week before and 3 months after their low-vision clinic visit. RESULTS: Low-vision patients scored lower (P < .001) in physical functioning and role limitations caused by physical and emotional health problems than published SF-36 scores of the age-appropriate United States normal population, patients with congestive heart failure, and clinically depressed patients. Low-vision services were associated with improvement in the subjective functional status of 150 patients (98.7%) and were rated 'very useful' by 82 (53.9%) patients. The SF- 36 scores did not change significantly after low-vision services. The VF-14 mean score improved from 35.8 to 41.2 (P < .001). Four NEI-VFQ subscale scores improved significantly (P < .001): general vision, near activities, distance activities, and peripheral vision. CONCLUSIONS: The SF-36, VF-14, and NEI-VFQ demonstrate that low-vision clinic patients perceive marked impairment of functional status and quality of life. Low-vision services are associated with high patient satisfaction. Vision-targeted questionnaires are more sensitive than general health-related quality of life questionnaires to changes in functional status and quality of life after low-vision services, and they may help elucidate the outcomes of low-vision services.
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