With any type of medical condition, a loss of independence can lead to growing feelings of depression. People living with age-related macular degeneration experience a gradual erosion of their independence as failing eyesight makes simple tasks such as navigating their homes or reading medicine bottles quite difficult.
A study published in the journal Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science examined two therapeutic approaches to macular degeneration rehabilitation and how they affected patients’ levels of depression. In the study, subjects were provided with the same baseline low-vision optometry evaluation and in-office patient training, and then split into two groups. The first group received six one-hour, in-home sessions with an occupational therapist, who helped the patients work on practical lifestyle tasks such as writing checks, measuring ingredients and pouring liquids. The second group received an equal amount of time with a counselor, who engaged in supportive talk therapy about their vision loss and disability, but offered no pragmatic advice on how to complete chores or navigate their environment.
After four months, researchers assessed the progress of both groups. The patients who received the occupational therapy showed greater improvement in their ability to perform daily activities than those who did not. (The talk therapy participants did experience some improvement, likely attributed to the initial low-vision optometry sessions and possibly from the encouragement they received from the in-home counselor.) The researchers also concluded that when patients improved in their functional ability, their level of depression decreased, according to AOA.
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