Caregivers of individuals with visual impairment (VI) have indicated that their duties create significant psychosocial and financial burdens, according to a study published in the Canadian Journal of Ophthalmology. 

Researchers conducted a meta-analysis of 7 studies to identify and characterize burdens experienced by caregivers of patients with visual disabilities. They performed a database search consisting of specific keywords, and included studies of individuals aged 18 years and older with any ocular disease that also analyzed caregiver burden. The investigators used a combination of validated (Zarit Burden Interview, Caregiver Reaction Assessment, Burden Assessment Scale, Burden Index of Caregivers, Caregiver Burden Scale, and Modified Caregiver Strain Index) and non-validated burden assessments to identify specific sources and severities associated with the burdens. 

Overall, investigators determined that caregiving was associated with a significant burden (65%, 95%CI, 12%-17%). They further classified this significant burden as severe (24%, 95% CI, 3%-45%), moderate (18%, 95%CI, 9%-28%), or mild (34%, 95% CI, 7%-61%).


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The team identified psychosocial and economic factors as the most likely to affect caregiver burden. Caregivers commonly cited disruptions in schedule, personal obligations, and social life as factors for their emotional burden. Financial difficulty and missed workdays also contributed to their economic burdens. 

A total of 2 of the studies using the Caregiver Reaction Assessment tool reported a mild to moderate burden in caring for patients with low vision and neovascular age-related macular degeneration (nAMD). However, they both reported a rise in self-esteem associated with providing care. In a study involving glaucoma, caregiver burden was associated with worsening visual field and a decline in overall health in the patient.  

Researchers acknowledge a rise in age-related VI and state “recognition of the wide array of negative effects, ranging from emotional to economic, among caregivers of eye disease patients is needed to create effective interventions.”

Study limitations include the use of a small number of studies for analysis and the use of non-validated assessments in some studies. 

Reference

Pur DR, Bassi A, Malvankar-Mehta MS. Impact on caregivers of patients with eye diseases: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Can J Ophthalmol. Published online April 28, 2022. doi:10.1016/j.jcjo.2022.04.003