A visual impairment often results in major psychosocial challenges, also in regard to work participation. In developed countries, the employment rate for visually impaired people remains low. In the Netherlands for example, the employment rate is 36.8%, compared to 67.1% in the general population in the working age group. Moreover, people with a visual impairment have a lower employment rate compared to other disabilities. Recent Nivel studies (2018-2020) showed that more than 40% of the people with a visual problem have problems with work and education. Not only, visually impaired people have problems in having or keeping a job, but also visually impaired people often work below their level for which they are qualified for (‘underemployment’). Being unemployed or underemployed is known to lead to dependent relationships with others and negatively affect the self-esteem of these individuals.
Loss of work productivity in the visually impaired results in high economic costs. At the same time, it is expected that the prevalence of visual impairments in the working-age group, will increase in the next years, due to raising state retirement age, increase in ophthalmic co-morbidity (overweight, diabetes, hypertension) and changes in lifestyle and environmental factors (increase in near-visual activities).
What is the aim of this study?
This project aims to identify and gain insight into factors that influence the work participation of visually impaired people. In order to have better insight and understanding of these factors, we hope to improve the employment and reintegration opportunities of visually impaired people. Moreover, this can contribute to improved diagnostic strategy and knowledge for professionals in the field of assessing work-disability in visually impaired people.
How do we conduct this study?
Our previous research was conducted using focus group interviews and showed that insurance physicians experience the work disability assessment of visually impaired people as complicated. These physicians in the field of disability assessment mentioned different problems; firstly, problems in performing a complete exam on the individual’ visual functioning based on the interview, physical examination, additional information (ophthalmologist, rehabilitation institution); secondly, weighing the obtained data based on consistency and plausibility, and subsequently the quantification to work capacity.
In our current study we focus on exploring predictive factors for work participation in visually impaired people, by performing a state-of-the-art literature review. We systematically study and assess the existing international scientific literature on this subject.