African Americans experience a disproportionate degree of visual impairment. Looking into how this affects their vision-specific quality of life, researchers recently found visual field (VF) loss had the largest impact on the ability to complete visual tasks, especially when it came to driving. Visual impairment also affected this population’s emotional well-being.

This cross-sectional, population-based cohort included 7,957 people who self-identified as African American, were 40 years or older and resided in Inglewood, CA. Of the total participants, 6,347 (80%) completed clinical eye exams and 5,121 (64%) generated reliable data. The team conducted the Humphrey SITA Standard 24-2 test and administered the National Eye Institute Visual Function Questionnaire.

The investigators reported that those with worse visual field loss were older and had more comorbidities, lower income, less education and worse visual acuity and were more likely to be unemployed and depressed.

VF changes of 6.2dB and 9.2dB were necessary to observe a meaningful (five-point) difference in vision-related task and emotional well-being scores, respectively. VF loss had the greatest impact on self-reported driving ability (6.0dB), followed by satisfaction with general vision, near vision, vision-related mental health and peripheral vision.

Grisafell DJ, Varma R, Burkemper BS, et al. Impact of visual field loss on vision-specific quality of life in African Americans: the African American Eye Disease Study. Am J Ophthalmol. February 8, 2021. [Epub ahead of print].