According to a recent study published by the American Academy of Optometry, older adults with cataracts may be at increased risk for depression.
The study was conducted by Haifang Wang of Soochow University, China, and colleagues, with the goal of exploring “the complex relationship between aging, vision loss, cataract, and depression.” Wang found that the link between cataracts and depression was especially pronounced among adults with lower education.
Age-related cataracts are the leading cause of vision loss worldwide, and cataract incidence is expected to steadily increase as life expectancy increases. Depression is also a common condition in older adults, so the prospect of cataract surgery improving eyesight as well as mental health is quite exciting.
Wang’s study involved a sample of Chinese older adults. Almost half of the adults had cataracts in at least one eye, and eight percent of participants exhibited symptoms of depression. Wang’s findings were as follows:
- Depressive symptoms were more common in women than men and were common in older age groups.
- Symptoms of depression were 33 percent more likely when cataracts were present.
- The link between cataracts and depression was 50 percent stronger for subjects with no formal education.
The study was unable to show whether vision loss might be the cause for feeling isolated, or that being depressed may deter them from seeking cataract treatment.
“These results suggest that vision care professionals should consider the broader impact that vision loss may have on mental health and well-being,” said Michael Twa, Editor-in-Chief of Optometry and Vision Science. “As a next step, it would be important to know if the associated depression in older adults is reversible following the restoration of vision after cataract surgery” (Source: The Advertiser News).