Did You Know Vision Loss Can Lead To Depression?

vision loss

This is a sponsored post by Premier Eye Care

As we age, many of the things we take for granted can become increasingly difficult to accomplish on our own.  For a person suffering from vision loss, driving a car, seeing the television clearly, and being able to read a favorite book becomes challenging, if not impossible. This loss of abilities is being shown to potentially lead to another medical condition – depression.

A study by the National Institutes of Health found that more than 10 percent of individuals with vision problems also meet criteria for the diagnosis of depression. The study also showed that those with more serious vision problems have more severe depressive symptoms, as fun fulfilling activities begin to become burdensome.

One of the more serious vision problems that can occur in older adults is age-related macular degeneration (AMD).  It causes damage to the macula, a spot near the center of the retina that is needed for sharp, straight-ahead vision. It can affect one eye or both (if it affects both eyes, it’s called bilateral AMD). Studies have shown that the rate of depression increases to 25 percent in patients who have bilateral AMD.

Fortunately, there are ways to help decrease the chances of depression in a person with vision loss, even AMD, by getting an annual eye exam, which leads to early detection.

Only a comprehensive dilated eye exam can detect AMD, and it is important to address AMD before there is major damage to the macula, the part of the retina that is responsible for central vision. While there is no cure for AMD, early detection will help you manage it more effectively, which includes starting treatment earlier, learning coping mechanisms, and behavior modifications to deal with the vision loss. Often, there are no symptoms present when AMD starts, so an annual eye exam is critical.

As with many medical conditions, there are ways to help minimize your chances of having vision loss. Here are four things you can do to protect your eyesight:

  1. Eat a healthy diet. Studies have shown that people who have diets with plenty of healthy proteins, minerals and vitamins have been known to have fewer incidents of AMD.
  1. Don’t smoke, and if you smoke now, quit. In addition to a litany of other negative impacts on your health, smokers are four times more likely to develop AMD.
  1. Invest in quality sunglasses. Long-term, intensive exposure to UV rays can negatively impact eyesight long term.
  1. Exercise helps. Several recent studies have shown a correlation between regular exercise and a delay in the onset of AMD. This ties into the overall positive effects of exercise, which can help delay a number of problems that come along with aging.

Doctors, state agencies, and non-profit organizations offer counseling services for those with vision loss and can provide referrals to other professionals, such as occupational therapists and low vision doctors, based on individual needs. People with severe vision loss are encouraged to consider these resources, in order to set personal goals, maintain a social lifestyle, and maintain independence.

– Afrouz Motedaeiny, O.D. is the Associate Medical Director of Premier Eye Care, a leading third-party administrator of eye care benefits for health plans. More information about Premier is available at www.premiereyecare.net.

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