Importance: A significant proportion of individuals with visual impairment report experiences of discrimination. However, evidence comparing perceived discrimination among people with visual impairment with the general population is lacking. In addition, poorer mental health and well-being have been detected in this population, but the association between discrimination and well-being in those with visual impairment is unknown.
Objective: To investigate perceived discrimination among people with visual impairment and its association with well-being in a population-based sample of older adults.
Design, Setting, and Participants: This study collected data from 7677 participants 50 years or older from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing, a representative sample of older men and women in England. Experiences of perceived discrimination were reported from July 2010 to June 2011. Depressive symptoms, life satisfaction, quality of life, and loneliness were assessed from July 2010 to June 2011 and May 2016 to June 2017. Data analysis was performed from September 27, 2018, to October 10, 2018.
Exposures: Self-rated eyesight, categorized as poor (ratings of fair, poor, or blind) or good (good, very good, or excellent), which was not previously validated for this population.
Main Outcomes and Measures: We used logistic regression to analyze differences in perceived discrimination between participants reporting poor vs good eyesight and cross-sectional and prospective associations between perceived discrimination and well-being in those with poor eyesight.
Results: A total of 7677 participants (mean [SD] age, 66.71 [9.17] years; 4023 [52.4%] female) were included in the study. Participants with poor eyesight had increased odds of reporting perceived discrimination compared with those with good eyesight (odds ratio [OR], 1.41; 95% CI, 1.23-1.63; P < .001). Cross-sectionally, participants who reported poor eyesight and discrimination had increased odds of depressive symptoms (OR, 2.14; 95% CI, 1.57-2.92; P < .001) and loneliness (OR, 2.17; 95% CI, 1.61-2.92; P < .001) and lower quality of life (B = −4.06; 95% CI, −5.29 to −2.84; P < .001) and life satisfaction (B = −2.37; 95% CI, −3.28 to −1.46; P < .001) compared with poor eyesight and no reported discrimination. Prospectively, perceived discrimination was associated with increased risk of depressive symptoms among participants reporting poor eyesight at 6-year follow-up (OR, 1.72; 95% CI, 1.08-2.76; P = .02).
Conclusions and Relevance: These findings suggest that older adults with impaired vision are at increased risk of perceived discrimination. Those who reported experiencing discrimination had higher levels of depressive symptoms and loneliness and lower quality of life and life satisfaction. Action to address discrimination may help mitigate the increased risk of poor well-being in this population.