A cross border comparative study of the vision related quality of life of urban and rural dwelling people aged 60 years and older who are registrable as vision impaired in Ireland

  • Blaithin Gallagher

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This research seeks to evaluate the effects of visual impairment on people aged 60 and over on the island of Ireland, so that service providers can prepare appropriate and effective health care strategies in light of changing demographics. Participants for this study were selected from the registers of vision impaired persons in the Republic and North of Ireland. A total of 343 people who met the inclusion criteria were recruited to the study. Interviews, averaging 1.75 hour's duration, were conducted with 222 consenting participants. In addition, 121 vision impaired individuals agreed to participate in 14 focus groups. This allowed the researcher to explore further issues raised during individual interviews. A focus group was held with frontline professionals.

QOL scores are better in the Republic of Ireland than in Northern Ireland. Those living in Republic of Ireland (Dublin/urban) scored highest while those living in Northern Ireland (Belfast/urban) scored worst in every domain for QOL. Over 50% were living alone and 73% reported difficulty in getting around. Fear of falling was experienced by 73%, 64% had fallen and over 60% had received injuries as a result of their fall. Only 12.6% had received full formal mobility training. Dependency on family support was high, particularly for transport. The majority found public transport very difficult to use even where it was frequently available. Service providers & peer support groups were singled out for special praise. A public information and awareness campaign about sight loss is essential. Although over 75% reported at least one additional disability or illnesses, when asked what they might do to change their lives, the majority responded that they would like to have their eyesight restored. The implications of these findings highlight the challenges ahead for service providers and policy makers in meeting the needs of this growing population.
Date of AwardDec 2009
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Queen's University Belfast
SupervisorJonathan Jackson (Supervisor)

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