The Need for a New Paradigm to Assess Quality of Life of Persons with Vision Impairment and Blindness: Evidence from a Literature Survey
Eye health and vision play an extensive role in every aspect of our life as everything we perceive as the world comes through our sense of sight. Recent statistics of the World Health Organisation specify that 2.2 billion of the world’s population experience vision impairment and blindness, of which at least 1 billion of these cases are yet to be addressed. Estimates show that over 1 million persons with vision impairment and blindness have been reported in Sri Lanka. Promoting the quality of life of such communities has become a high priority initiative for local governments, international organisations, and researchers, where this construct has been subject to continuous discussion with numerous models proposed for its assessment. However, the research problem emanates from the fact that there is no clearly construed definition or characterisation of this construct. Although past research points to a couple of instruments that examine the quality of life of persons with vision impairment and blindness, their focus has been limited to the medical aspect of a life of quality. Hence, this paper attempts to demystify the concept of quality of life as applicable to persons with vision impairment and blindness, to justify the need for a novel instrument to assess this noteworthy construct. A systematic literature search on the quality of life was carried out using multiple electronic databases where a total of 254 online publications were identified, which were then screened and excluded based on relevance. The remaining 78 papers were read in-depth to identify conceptual and measurement principles pertaining to the quality of life and a thematic analysis was carried out on 32 quality of life definitions to obtain a better understanding of this construct. The findings of the thematic analysis indicate that quality of life relates to the overall well-being of an individual that needs to be examined with respect to his/her needs, expectations, and values that are perceived as important by them. In obtaining a better grasp of the perspectives discussed in this paper, the need for a new conceptual model of quality of life arguably becomes clearer for persons with vision impairment and blindness.
Keywords: Conceptualisation, Quality of Life, Vision Impairment and Blindness