Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Thesis Format



Master of Science


Health and Rehabilitation Sciences


McGrath, Colleen


The goal of this study was to share the stories of older adults with age-related vision loss (ARVL) and how they have coped to maintain meaningful occupational engagement. Grounded in a constructivist paradigm, data collection and analysis were guided by the narrative inquiry methodology. The participants consisted of six older adults aged 60 or older, diagnosed with one of the following ARVL conditions: macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, and/or glaucoma. Participants were recruited from vision loss non-profit organizations such as the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) and the Alliance for Equity of Blind Canadians (AEBC). One older adult was recruited through snowball sampling, and two were participants in previous research conducted in the Vision Loss in Later Life Research Lab (VITAL). Data collection occurred across three narrative interviews. Each of these interviews were audio recorded, and semi-structured. These interviews took place both over the phone or in person, as per the older adult’s request. Fraser’s (2004) line-by-line method was employed to produce a thorough thematic analysis based on the stories shared by each of the older adults. Three main themes were identified, and coping mechanisms were grouped by family including: (1) Psychological coping mechanisms, (2) Social coping mechanisms and, (3) Behavioural coping mechanisms. This research expands knowledge on how older adults cope with ARVL and the importance of maintaining meaningful occupation for older adults with vision loss. The future directions and implications of the research are discussed and unpacked as well.

Summary for Lay Audience

This study aimed to share the stories of older adults as they explain how they have coped with age-related vision loss (ARVL), a term that includes three diagnoses including macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, and glaucoma to maintain participation in their favourite activities. Six older adults (aged 60 or older) participated in three narrative interviews and shared their stories about the various ways in which they cope and navigate barriers related to low vision. Analysis of the participants shared stories elicited three main themes: (1) Psychological coping mechanisms, (2) Social coping mechanisms and, (3) Behavioural coping mechanisms. Findings from this study could help to inform improved low-vision rehabilitation services for older adults with ARVL, as well as bring research awareness to the importance of coping and maintaining occupational engagement for other older adults with ARVL.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.