Occupation, Quality of Life and Adaptation in Older Adults with Age-Related macular Degeneration (ARMD)

Graduation Date


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Document Form


Degree Name

Masters of Science in Occupational Therapy


Occupational Therapy

Department or Program Chair

Ruth Ramsey, EdD, OTR/L

Thesis Advisor

Stacy Frauwirth, MS, OTR/L

Second Advisor

Ruth Ramsey, EdD, OTR/L


Age-related macular degeneration (ARMD) is a progressive and often severe form of vision loss affecting adults over 60 and may affect individuals’ independence. In the US, the occurrence of ARMD is increasing as the number of older adults continues to grow. Legislation changes in Medicare support reimbursement for occupational therapy (OT) services in the field of low vision but limited OT literature is available supporting the role of occupational adaptation to activity loss in individuals with ARMD.

The purpose of this study was to investigate adjustment to activity loss experienced by older adults with ARMD and the relationship to adaptation, satisfaction, and quality of life. The experience of visual impairment was explored through qualitative individual interviews and focus group conducted at the Lighthouse of Marin, a local low vision clinic. Primary findings were that individual factors and factors external to the individual play a role in older adults’ adaptation to activity loss. A surprising find was that life satisfaction was often associated with individual successful aging and not always linked to individuals’ level of vision loss. Family and social support from others who have vision loss had a positive impact on individuals’ engagement in valued occupations, maintenance of daily routines and their overall quality of life. The process of adaptation for those with ARMD is ongoing and continued support and adaptive strategies are needed.

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