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The results of a survey of visually impaired individuals regarding the impact of COVID-19 varied based on level of visual impairment with those with worse vision having greater concerns and misperceptions about the pandemic than those with less severe visual impairment or controls.
Further research is necessary to determine if visually impaired individuals are impacted more by the pandemic than those without these disabilities.
To assess perceptions and implications of COVID-19 across the spectrum of visual impairment (VI) and normally-sighted individuals DESIGN: : Prospective cross-sectional comparative study.
232 patients and their caregivers. Four groups were created based on better eye characteristics: blind (best-corrected distance visual acuity (BCDVA) < 3/60 or visual field < 10 central degrees), severe VI (3/60 ≤ BCDVA < 6/60, vertical cup-to-disc ratio ≥ 0.85 or neuroretinal rim width ≤ 0.1), moderate VI (6/60 ≤ BCDVA < 6/18), or no/mild VI (controls, BCDVA ≥ 6/18) based on International Classification of Diseases-10 criteria and Foster and Quigley's consensus definition of glaucoma.
MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES
Differences in perceptions and implications of COVID-19 across various levels of VI. Caregiver perceptions were a secondary outcome measure.
Survey was completed by 232 participants, with 58 participants in each VI group. Mean age was 58.9 years ± 13.2. Greater degrees of VI were associated with older age (P=0.008) and lower education level (P=0.046). Blind participants more commonly perceived vision as a risk factor for contracting COVID-19 (P=0.045), were concerned about access to healthcare (P<0.001), obtained news through word of mouth (P<0.001), and less commonly wore masks (P=0.003). Controls more commonly performed frequent handwashing (P=0.001), were aware of telemedicine (P=0.029), and had fewer concerns about social interactions (P=0.020) compared to groups with substantial VI. All caregivers reported more frequent patient care since COVID-19 began.
The pandemic may have a disproportionate impact on the visually-impaired, and evidence-based assessments of COVID-19 health outcomes in this population are warranted.