With mental health high on the agenda this week, a timely news release came across our desk today from Optometry Australia linking depression with vision loss.
Ahead of R U Ok Day? on Thursday, Optometry Australia says this R U OK Day make it a priority to check in with those living with vision loss.
According to one US study[i], adults with visual function loss are at least 90 per cent more likely to have depression than those without visual function loss.
CEO of Optometry Australia, Lyn Brodie, said, “Studies[ii] have shown that vision loss is among the most common chronic conditions associated with depression in old age. Around 12 million Australians have reported long-term eye conditions yet 75 per cent of all vision impairment is preventable or treatable. We encourage all Australians to see their optometrist for regular eye examinations,” she said.
Ms Brodie said, detecting age-related diseases like macular degeneration and glaucoma as early as possible was crucial in slowing the progression of the diseases and curbing the associated risk of depression.
Studies[iii] have shown people with impaired vision often report that they feel unhappy, lonely, or even hopeless.
“People may delay seeing an optometrist, thinking nothing can be done to stop vision loss. However, as well as treating the progression of eye diseases, optometrists also offer solutions like visual aids so their patients can continue doing the things that bring them joy and purpose,” she said.
People who are depressed may not seek out eye care when experiencing visual difficulties. They also may not realise, unless asked, that they even have difficulties with their vision.
Men are less likely to get help with their mental health and their eye health
Medicare statistics reveal that of the 8.67 million optometric services provided in 2016, women received around 57.6 per cent of those services and men, 42.4 per cent.
Men are also less likely to get the help they need for anxiety and depression, with Australian Bureau of Statistics data showing only 27 per cent of men seek professional help, compared to 40 per cent of women.
If you or someone you know needs help with mental health, call
Lifeline on 13 11 14
Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800
MensLine Australia on 1300 789 978
Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467
[i] Zhang X, Bullard KM, Cotch MF, et al. Association Between Depression and Functional Vision Loss in Persons 20 Years of Age or Older in the United States, NHANES 2005–2008. JAMA ophthalmology. 2013;131(5):573-581. doi:10.1001/jamaophthalmol.2013.2597.
[ii] Huang CQ, Dong BR, Lu ZC, Yue JR, Liu QX. Chronic diseases and risk for depression in old age: a meta-analysis of published literature. Ageing Res Rev. 2010 Apr;9(2):131-41. doi: 10.1016/j.arr.2009.05.005. Epub 2009 Jun 11. Review.
[iii] Zhang X, Bullard KM, Cotch MF, et al. Association Between Depression and Functional Vision Loss in Persons 20 Years of Age or Older in the United States, NHANES 2005–2008. JAMA ophthalmology. 2013;131(5):573-581. doi:10.1001/jamaophthalmol.2013.2597.