Exploring the patient perspective of fatigue in adults with visual impairment: A qualitative study

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Objectives Fatigue is an often mentioned symptom by patients with irreversible visual impairment. This study explored the patient perspective of fatigue in visually impaired adults with a focus on symptoms of fatigue, causes, consequences and coping strategies. Setting Two large Dutch low vision multidisciplinary rehabilitation organisations. Participants 16 visually impaired adults with severe symptoms of fatigue selected by purposive sampling. Methods A qualitative study involving semistructured interviews. A total of four first-level codes were top-down predetermined in correspondence with the topics of the research question. Verbatim transcribed interviews were analysed with a combination of a deductive and inductive approach using open and axial coding. Results Participants often described the symptoms of fatigue as a mental, daily and physical experience. The most often mentioned causes of fatigue were a high cognitive load, the intensity and amount of activities, the high effort necessary to establish visual perception, difficulty with light intensity and negative cognitions. Fatigue had the greatest impact on the ability to carry out social roles and participation, emotional functioning and cognitive functioning. The most common coping strategies were relaxation, external support, socialising and physical exercise and the acceptance of fatigue. Conclusions Our results indicate that low vision-related fatigue is mainly caused by population specific determinants that seem different from the fatigue experience described in studies with other patient populations. Fatigue may be central to the way patients react, adapt and compensate to the consequences of vision loss. These findings indicate a need for future research aimed at interventions specifically tailored to the unique aspects of fatigue related to vision loss.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere015023
Pages (from-to)e015023
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2017


  • Journal Article
  • fatigue
  • low vision
  • patient's perspective
  • qualitative research
  • quality of life

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