How do older people with sight loss manage their general health? A qualitative study

Amy E. Burton, Jonathan M. Gibson, Rachel L. Shaw*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Older people with sight loss experience a number of barriers to managing their health. The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore how older people with sight loss manage their general health and explore the techniques used and strategies employed for health management.

Methods: Semi-structured face-to-face interviews were conducted with 30 participants. Interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed verbatim and analysed using thematic analysis.

Results: Health management challenges experienced included: managing multiple health conditions; accessing information; engaging in health behaviours and maintaining wellbeing. Positive strategies included: joining support groups, clubs and societies; using low vision aids; seeking support from family and friends and accessing support through health and social care services.

Conclusion: Healthcare professionals need to be more aware of the challenges faced by older people with sight loss. Improved promotion of group support and charity services which are best placed to share information, provide fora to learn about coping techniques and strategies, and give older people social support to prevent isolation is needed. Rehabilitation and support services and equipment can only be beneficial if patients know what is available and how to access them. Over-reliance on self-advocacy in current healthcare systems is not conducive to patient-centred care. Implications for Rehabilitation Sight loss in older people can impact on many factors including health management. This study identifies challenges to health management and highlights strategies used by older people with sight loss to manage their health. Access to support often relies on patients seeking information for themselves. However, self-advocacy is challenging due to information accessibility barriers. Informal groups and charities play an important role in educating patients about their condition and advising on available support to facilitate health management.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2277-2285
Number of pages9
JournalDisability and Rehabilitation
Issue number23
Early online date14 Jan 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2016

Bibliographical note

This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Disability and Rehabilitation on 14/01/16, available online:

Funding: Thomas Pocklington Trust and West Birmingham and Sandwell NHS Trust.


  • Healthcare
  • vision impairment
  • health management
  • older people


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