To prospectively collect data on the providers, types, and costs of care for people with impaired vision in Australia.
Adults with impaired vision, visual acuity worse than 20/40, were recruited from clinics, vision rehabilitation agencies, and support groups. Participants completed daily diaries for 12 months, entering information on the amount of time they used caregivers and providers and types of care. Demographic information was obtained from questionnaires. The cost of care was calculated using mean hourly wage rates.
The mean age of the 114 participants was 66.5 years (standard deviation [SD], 19.7) with 64% of participants female; 105 of 114 participants relied on a caregiver at least once during the 12 months. The mean amount of yearly caregiver time used was 152.2 hours (SD, 193; median, 81.3; range, 1-851 hours). The median time represents 4.6% of a working week. There were no significant associations of age, sex, type, or place of residence with the amount of care received (P ≥ .1). As most of the caregivers were family members who assisted with transport, written communications, and personal affairs, the “opportunity costs” were calculated. The median annual opportunity cost was A$915 (US $710) (range, $A0-$9653 [US $0-$7491]).
This study prospectively obtained data for the cost of caregivers for people with impaired vision. The degree of vision impairment was not associated with the amount of care used but showed a threshold effect: when vision is impaired to the extent that people cannot legally hold a driver's license, reliance on caregivers appears to be independent of the severity of loss of vision.