To identify the major problems with adjustment to the advanced stages of proliferative diabetic retinopathy and to examine the relationship between adjustment and visual acuity.


A cross-sectional descriptive cohort study was conducted at the referral-based eye unit at Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston, Massachusetts. We studied 47 adults with IDDM and advanced proliferative diabetic retinopathy. Thirty reported recent visual loss, and 17 had more stable vision.


Psychosocial Adjustment to Illness Scale scores were significantly elevated relative to a normative diabetic sample (t = 2.94, P < 0.01). Our proliferative diabetic retinopathy sample reported the most difficulties in the domain of health-care orientation. No significant differences were observed in adjustment scores between those with recent partial visual loss and those with more stable vision. However, visual acuity in the best eye correlated significantly with the proliferative diabetic retinopathy sample's total adjustment score (r = −0.34, P = 0.02) and with 4 of 7 adjustment subscales.


These results suggest that advanced proliferative diabetic retinopathy may be associated with particular difficulties in adjustment that are more related to best visual acuity than to recent visual loss. Relatively mild visual impairment may have significant psychosocial impact.

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