Background: Low vision rehabilitation aims to optimise the use of residual vision after severe vision loss, but also aims to teach skills in order to improve visual functioning in daily life. Other aims include helping people to adapt to permanent vision loss and improving psychosocial functioning. These skills promote independence and active participation in society. Low vision rehabilitation should ultimately improve quality of life (QOL) for people who have visual impairment. Objectives: To assess the effectiveness of low vision rehabilitation interventions on health-related QOL (HRQOL), vision-related QOL (VRQOL) or visual functioning and other closely related patient-reported outcomes in visually impaired adults. Search methods: We searched relevant electronic databases and trials registers up to 18 September 2019. Selection criteria: We included randomised controlled trials (RCTs) investigating HRQOL, VRQOL and related outcomes of adults, with an irreversible visual impairment (World Health Organization criteria). We included studies that compared rehabilitation interventions with active or inactive control. Data collection and analysis: We used standard methods expected by Cochrane. We assessed the certainty of the evidence using the GRADE approach. Main results: We included 44 studies (73 reports) conducted in North America, Australia, Europe and Asia. Considering the clinical diversity of low vision rehabilitation interventions, the studies were categorised into four groups of related intervention types (and by comparator): (1) psychological therapies and/or group programmes, (2) methods of enhancing vision, (3) multidisciplinary rehabilitation programmes, (4) other programmes. Comparators were no care or waiting list as an inactive control group, usual care or other active control group. Participants included in the reported studies were mainly older adults with visual impairment or blindness, often as a result of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Study settings were often hospitals or low vision rehabilitation services. Effects were measured at the short-term (six months or less) in most studies. Not all studies reported on funding, but those who did were supported by public or non-profit funders (N = 31), except for two studies. Compared to inactive comparators, we found very low-certainty evidence of no beneficial effects on HRQOL that was imprecisely estimated for psychological therapies and/or group programmes (SMD 0.26, 95% CI -0.28 to 0.80; participants = 183; studies = 1) and an imprecise estimate suggesting little or no effect of multidisciplinary rehabilitation programmes (SMD -0.08, 95% CI -0.37 to 0.21; participants = 183; studies = 2; I2 = 0%); no data were available for methods of enhancing vision or other programmes. Regarding VRQOL, we found low- or very low-certainty evidence of imprecisely estimated benefit with psychological therapies and/or group programmes (SMD -0.23, 95% CI -0.53 to 0.08; studies = 2; I2 = 24%) and methods of enhancing vision (SMD -0.19, 95% CI -0.54 to 0.15; participants = 262; studies = 5; I2 = 34%). Two studies using multidisciplinary rehabilitation programmes showed beneficial but inconsistent results, of which one study, which was at low risk of bias and used intensive rehabilitation, recorded a very large and significant effect (SMD: -1.64, 95% CI -2.05 to -1.24), and the other a small and uncertain effect (SMD -0.42, 95%: -0.90 to 0.07). Compared to active comparators, we found very low-certainty evidence of small or no beneficial effects on HRQOL that were imprecisely estimated with psychological therapies and/or group programmes including no difference (SMD -0.09, 95% CI -0.39 to 0.20; participants = 600; studies = 4; I2 = 67%). We also found very low-certainty evidence of small or no beneficial effects with methods of enhancing vision, that were imprecisely estimated (SMD -0.09, 95% CI -0.28 to 0.09; participants = 443; studies = 2; I2 = 0%) and multidisciplinary rehabilitation programmes (SMD -0.10, 95% CI -0.31 to 0.12; participants = 375; studies = 2; I2 = 0%). Concerning VRQOL, low-certainty evidence of small or no beneficial effects that were imprecisely estimated, was found with psychological therapies and/or group programmes (SMD -0.11, 95% CI -0.24 to 0.01; participants = 1245; studies = 7; I2 = 19%) and moderate-certainty evidence of small effects with methods of enhancing vision (SMD -0.24, 95% CI -0.40 to -0.08; participants = 660; studies = 7; I2 = 16%). No additional benefit was found with multidisciplinary rehabilitation programmes (SMD 0.01, 95% CI -0.18 to 0.20; participants = 464; studies = 3; I2 = 0%; low-certainty evidence). Among secondary outcomes, very low-certainty evidence of a significant and large, but imprecisely estimated benefit on self-efficacy or self-esteem was found for psychological therapies and/or group programmes versus waiting list or no care (SMD -0.85, 95% CI -1.48 to -0.22; participants = 456; studies = 5; I2 = 91%). In addition, very low-certainty evidence of a significant and large estimated benefit on depression was found for psychological therapies and/or group programmes versus waiting list or no care (SMD -1.23, 95% CI -2.18 to -0.28; participants = 456; studies = 5; I2 = 94%), and moderate-certainty evidence of a small benefit versus usual care (SMD -0.14, 95% CI -0.25 to -0.04; participants = 1334; studies = 9; I2 = 0%). ln the few studies in which (serious) adverse events were reported, these seemed unrelated to low vision rehabilitation. Authors' conclusions: In this Cochrane Review, no evidence of benefit was found of diverse types of low vision rehabilitation interventions on HRQOL. We found low- and moderate-certainty evidence, respectively, of a small benefit on VRQOL in studies comparing psychological therapies or methods for enhancing vision with active comparators. The type of rehabilitation varied among studies, even within intervention groups, but benefits were detected even if compared to active control groups. Studies were conducted on adults with visual impairment mainly of older age, living in high-income countries and often having AMD. Most of the included studies on low vision rehabilitation had a short follow-up,. Despite these limitations, the consistent direction of the effects in this review towards benefit justifies further research activities of better methodological quality including longer maintenance effects and costs of several types of low vision rehabilitation. Research on the working mechanisms of components of rehabilitation interventions in different settings, including low-income countries, is also needed.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We would like to thank all the study authors who responded to requests for additional information. We are grateful to the Information Specialist, Iris Gordon (IG) for updating the search strategies and running them. We would also like to thank Jennifer Evans and Anupa Shah for their active involvement in finishing the review, but also John Lawrenson, Gianfrancesco Villani, Catey Bunce and Tianjing Li for their peer review comments on the analyses, manuscript and protocol and/or for their earlier peer reviews. Financial support was provided in part by the A.F. Deutman Ophthalmic Research Foundation, Nijmegen, the Netherlands.
Funding: the study was supported by Sight Cymru.
-Funding: in kind support by Guide Dogs NSW/ACT; Australian Society of Teachers of the Alexander Technique; FM Alexander Trust (UK); Australian Postgraduate Award Scholarship, Australian Federal Government; Australian National Health and Research Council; Australian Research Council
-Funding: Australian Research Council Linkage grant; The Centre for Eye Research Australia receives Operational Infrastructure Support from the Victorian Government.
RCT supported by PRIMENT UK-CRC Registered Clinical Trials Unit
o Richard Wormald, Co-ordinating Editor for Cochrane Eyes and Vision (CEV) acknowledges financial support for his CEV research sessions from the Department of Health through the award made by the National Institute for Health Research to Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and UCL Institute of Ophthalmology for a Specialist Biomedical Research Centre for Ophthalmology. o This review was supported by the National Institute for Health Research, via Cochrane Infrastructure funding to the CEV UK editorial base.
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ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pharmacology (medical)