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12-03-2013 | Ophthalmology | Article

Functional vision loss associated with depression


Free abstract

medwireNews: Functional vision loss is significantly associated with depression, research shows. In an analysis of 10,480 adults participating in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2005-2008, individuals with functional vision loss were 90% more likely to report symptoms of depression than individuals with normal vision.

Approximately one in 10 adults reporting a loss of vision function met the criteria for significant depressive disorder, while one in five had mild depressive symptoms.

"The high prevalence of depression among people with visual function loss, especially among the older population, suggests that eye care providers and primary care providers should be aware of the increased risk of depression among those with vision loss," report researchers in JAMA Ophthalmology.

Led by Xinzhi Zhang (National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, USA), the group suggests early diagnosis of depression and prompt treatment could alleviate symptoms and improve quality of life.

Zhang and colleagues estimated the prevalence of depression in US adults 20 years of age and older with functional vision loss and visual acuity impairment.

Overall, the crude prevalence of depression was 11.3% among adults with self-reported vision loss and 4.8% in adults with normal vision. The rates were similar for adults aged just 20 to 39 years, at 13.0% for those with visual function loss compared with 4.7% for those with normal vision.

After controlling for all other factors (eg, age, race, education, marital status), the odds for developing depression among individuals with any visual function difficulty remained significant (odds ratio 1.9).

In all age groups, as the number of visual function problems increased, the prevalence and the severity of depression also increased, according to Zhang et al.

For adults with visual acuity impairment, the estimated prevalence of depression was 10.7%. In adults with normal visual acuity, the prevalence of depression was 6.8%. However, in a fully adjusted risk model, loss of visual acuity was not significantly associated with depression, unlike functional vision loss.

By medwireNews Reporters