Associations of Eye Diseases and Symptoms with Self-Reported Physical and Mental Health

  • This study found the presence of eye disease does not directly correlate to depression

  • Only when a condition causes difficulty in seeing, does the likelihood of depression increase.

  • The results suggest an important link between visual symptoms and general health-related quality of life.


This study was conducted to examine the associations of eye diseases and visual symptoms with the most widely used health-related quality-of-life (HRQOL) generic profile measure.

HRQOL was assessed using the short form-36 (SF-36) version 1 survey administered to a sample of patients receiving care provided by a physician group practice association.

Eye diseases, ocular symptoms, and general health were assessed in a sample of patients from 48 physician groups. A total of 18,480 surveys were mailed out and 7,093 returned; 5,021 of these had complete data.

Nine percent of the respondents had cataracts, 2% had age-related macular degeneration, 2% glaucoma, 8% blurred vision, and 13% trouble seeing. Trouble seeing and blurred vision both had statistically unique associations with worse scores on the SF-36 mental health summary score.

Only “trouble seeing” had a significant association with the SF-36 physical health summary score. While these ocular symptoms were significantly associated with SF-36 scores, having an eye disease (cataracts, glaucoma, and macular degeneration) was not, after adjusting for other variables in the model.

The results suggest an important link between visual symptoms and general HRQOL. The study extends the findings of prior research to show that both trouble seeing and blurred vision have independent, measurable associations with HRQOL, while the presence of specific eye diseases may not.

Publication date

March 19, 2015


American Journal of Ophthalmology

Sponsor Institution

Research to Prevent Blindness, Medical Quality Commission, UCLA Resource Center for Minority Aging Research/Center for Health Improvement in Minority Elderly & Allergan


Paul P. Lee
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