The diagnosis of low vision due to age, such as macular degeneration, often comes with more consequences than just the inability to see. A new study by the National Eye Institute (NEI) reports that patients with low vision experience twice the depression that the blind experience and five times more depression compared with normal populations. The study brought together mental health and eye care professionals to study the causes of depression in those diagnosed with low-vision due to age.
Another 2013 national study of adults aged 20 and older published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Ophthalmology (JAMA) concluded that, “self-reported visual function loss…is significantly associated with depression.” Anecdotal evidence from low vision optometrists over the years noticed that about 1 in 10 low vision patients attending the clinic had some form of a mental health problem. Moreover, all low vision patients who attended the low vision clinic showed a general reduction in their quality of life.
Losing basic visual functions impacts individual’s ability to perform even the simplest motor functions, be they daily tasks like cooking, getting ready for work, or even just watching TV. So, while a diagnosis of permanent vision loss can often affect far more than just the ability to see; from how to dress, eat and work to how to maintain independence- it does not have to dictate your life.
By properly addressing these issues, low vision optometrists can help patients lead the fullest possible lives. Scheduling an appointment with them to get fitted for low vision glasses is the first step to helping patients become individuals again; avoiding needless concern, fear, despair and depression.
Knowing that there is hope after vision loss, and that hope lies in making the choice to get fitted for low vision glasses. Low vision optometrists are helping people get back to the activities they enjoy, rather than focusing on the loss of the activities due to macular degeneration and low vision.
If you or a loved one are experiencing symptoms of depression due to low vision, please seek help. To reach a qualified low vision optometrist with extensive training and experience in dealing with the visual issues of macular degeneration, you may locate a member of The International Academy of Low Vision Specialists near you by contacting their website: www.LowVisionDoctors.com or calling 1-888-778-2030.