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Young adults with vision impairment in India: Loneliness and social networks

Gothwal, V. K., Kanchustambam, J., Kodavati, K. & Subramanian, A. ORCID: 0000-0001-8104-5312 (2024). Young adults with vision impairment in India: Loneliness and social networks. Ophthalmic and Physiological Optics, doi: 10.1111/opo.13317


To examine the prevalence of loneliness and associated factors in young adults with vision impairment (VI), including quality of life (QoL) in India.

Two hundred and three VI young adults (18–35 years) and 219 age‐matched non‐VI (controls) adults completed the loneliness scale, WHOQOL‐BREF, Social Network Index (SNI) (network diversity, people in network size and number of embedded network subscales) and questions regarding sociodemographic characteristics and independent mobility. Rasch analysis was used to validate the questionnaires and interval‐level scores were generated. Generalised linear models were used to estimate independent associations of sociodemographic factors, VI characteristics, social networks and QoL with loneliness.

The prevalence of moderate and severe loneliness in the VI group was 10% (95% CI: 6.5, 15.4) and 4.4% (95% CI: 2.0, 8.2), respectively, and higher than that of controls. The VI group had a worse loneliness score than controls (−1.66 ± 2.25 vs. −2.13 ± 1.85 logits; p = 0.03). Those with ≤12 years and >12 years of education had loneliness scores of −1.58 ± 2.45 and −1.82 ± 1.99 logits, respectively (p = 0.01). Compared with controls, the VI group reported fewer extended family members, neighbours and friends leading to significantly smaller networks and network diversity (all p < 0.001). Loneliness scores demonstrated a significant correlation with only two SNI subscales for both groups: people in network size (r = −0.28 for VI; r = −0.30 for non‐VI; p < 0.001 for both) and number of embedded networks (r = −0.22 for VI; r = −0.21 for non‐VI; p = 0.002 for both). Both education (β = 0.45; p = 0.04) and QoL (β = −0.27, p = 0.02) were predictors of loneliness.

Loneliness was commonly experienced by young VI adults and was higher among those with lower levels of education. Loneliness decreased with the presence of a larger number of people in network, suggesting that interventions to increase social activity and participation may be valuable in young VI adults.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited and is not used for commercial purposes. © 2024 The Authors. Ophthalmic and Physiological Optics published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of College of Optometrists.
Publisher Keywords: loneliness, quality of life, social networks, vision impairment
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DS Asia
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
R Medicine > RE Ophthalmology
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences
School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Optometry & Visual Sciences
SWORD Depositor:
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