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Considerably diminished quality of life (QoL) is observed in patients with visual field defects after lesions affecting the visual pathway. But little is known to what extent vision- and health-related QoL impairments are associated with psychological distress. In 24 patients with chronic visual field defects (mean age=56.17±12.36) the National Eye Institute-visual functioning questionnaire (NEI-VFQ) for vision-related QoL, the Short Form Health Survey-36 (SF-36) for generic QoL and the revised Symptom-Checklist (SCL- 90-R) were administered. Cases with clinically relevant SCL-90-R symptoms were defined. Demographic, QoL and visual field parameters were correlated with SCL-90-R scales. About 40% of the investigated patients met the crite- ria for the definition of psychiatric caseness. 8/12 NEI-VFQ scales correlated significantly with SCL-90-R phobic anxiety (r-range -0.41 to -0.64, P<0.05), 5/12 NEI-VFQ scales correlated with SCL-90-R interpersonal sensitivity (-0.43 to -0.50), and 3/12 with SCL-90-R depression (-0.51 to -0.57) and obsessive-compulsiveness (-0.41 to -0.43). In contrast, only 1/8 SF-36 scales correlated significantly with SCL-90-R depression, phobic anxiety and interpersonal sensitivity (-0.41 to -0.54). No substantial correlations were observed between visual field parameters and SCL-90-R scales. Significant correlations of SCL-90-R with NEI-VFQ but not with SF-36 suggest that self-rated psychological distress is the result of diminished vision- related QoL as a consequence of visual field loss. The extent of visual field loss itself did not influence the rating of psychological distress directly, since SCL-90-R symptoms were only reported when diminished vision-related QoL was present. Patients with reduced vision-related QoL due to persisting visual field defects should therefore be offered additional neuropsychological rehabilitation and supportive psychotherapeutic interventions even years after the lesion.
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