Working is critical to personal health and well-being. We examine the association of vision measured objectively with work status using a nationally representative sample of working-age Americans.
A total of 19 849 participants from the 1999-2008 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey completed a vision examination and employment/demographic questionnaires. Employment rates for men with visual impairment, uncorrected refractive error, and normal vision were 58.7%, 66.5%, and 76.2%, respectively; employment rates for women with visual impairment, uncorrected refractive error, and normal vision were 24.5%, 56.0%, and 62.9%, respectively. In multivariable models adjusting for age, sex, race/ethnicity, and chronic disease status, both uncorrected refractive error (odds ratio [OR], 1.36; 95% CI, 1.15-1.60) and visual impairment (OR, 3.04; 95% CI, 1.93-4.79) were associated with a higher likelihood of not working. Subgroups in which visual impairment was associated with even higher odds of not working included women (OR, 4.9; 95% CI, 2.5-9.6), participants younger than 55 years (OR, 4.3; 95% CI, 2.9-6.5), and diabetic individuals (OR, 14.8; 95% CI, 5.8-37.3).
Conclusions and Relevance
Decreased vision is associated with a significantly higher likelihood of not working. Visually impaired diabetic individuals, women, and those younger than 55 years have a particularly high risk of not working. Further investigation is warranted to understand barriers for employment in individuals with decreased vision.