The psychological impact of vision loss due to diabetic retinopathy is compounded by the loss of diabetes self-management skills. The appropriate role and timing for rehabilitative intervention has not been determined. Twenty-nine individuals with diabetes mellitus, 16 with stable visual impairment and 13 with fluctuating and transitional visual impairment, underwent psychological assessment before and after entering into a specially designed rehabilitation program. Low levels of performance were demonstrated by the Rosenberg Self- Esteem Scale and the Diabetes Self-Reliance Test in both groups. The Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory, the Zung Self-Rating Depression Scale, and the Rand Mental Health Index suggested that subjects with stable vision impairment were moderately compensated relative to the transitional group, although the former group may have been totally blind. Both groups demonstrated significant improvements in psychological profiles after the program. It is suggested that a rehabilitation program may be of clinical benefit early in the course of vision loss associated with diabetic retinopathy.

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