Composite Measures of Individual and Area-Level Socio-Economic Status Are Associated with Visual Impairment in Singapore.

Published online

Journal Article

PURPOSE: To investigate the independent relationship of individual- and area-level socio-economic status (SES) with the presence and severity of visual impairment (VI) in an Asian population. METHODS: Cross-sectional data from 9993 Chinese, Malay and Indian adults aged 40-80 years who participated in the Singapore Epidemiology of eye Diseases (2004-2011) in Singapore. Based on the presenting visual acuity (PVA) in the better-seeing eye, VI was categorized into normal vision (logMAR≤0.30), low vision (logMAR>0.30<1.00), and blindness (logMAR≥1.00). Any VI was defined as low vision/blindness in the PVA of better-seeing eye. Individual-level low-SES was defined as a composite of primary-level education, monthly income<2000 SGD and residing in 1 or 2-room public apartment. An area-level SES was assessed using a socio-economic disadvantage index (SEDI), created using 12 variables from the 2010 Singapore census. A high SEDI score indicates a relatively poor SES. Associations between SES measures and presence and severity of VI were examined using multi-level, mixed-effects logistic and multinomial regression models. RESULTS: The age-adjusted prevalence of any VI was 19.62% (low vision = 19%, blindness = 0.62%). Both individual- and area-level SES were positively associated with any VI and low vision after adjusting for confounders. The odds ratio (95% confidence interval) of any VI was 2.11(1.88-2.37) for low-SES and 1.07(1.02-1.13) per 1 standard deviation increase in SEDI. When stratified by unilateral/bilateral categories, while low SES showed significant associations with all categories, SEDI showed a significant association with bilateral low vision only. The association between low SES and any VI remained significant among all age, gender and ethnic sub-groups. Although a consistent positive association was observed between area-level SEDI and any VI, the associations were significant among participants aged 40-65 years and male. CONCLUSION: In this community-based sample of Asian adults, both individual- and area-level SES were independently associated with the presence and severity of VI.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Wah, W; Earnest, A; Sabanayagam, C; Cheng, C-Y; Ong, MEH; Wong, TY; Lamoureux, EL

Published Date

  • 2015

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 10 / 11

Start / End Page

  • e0142302 -

PubMed ID

  • 26555141

Pubmed Central ID

  • 26555141

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1932-6203

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1371/journal.pone.0142302


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States