These 2 psychiatric disorders accompany vision loss in old age

By Scott Cunningham, MD, PhD
Published June 8, 2022

Key Takeaways

  • Up to 30% of elderly patients with vision loss secondary to macular disease have undiagnosed/untreated symptoms of depression and/or anxiety.

Putting It Into Practice

Although formal questionnaire-based testing for depression and anxiety in the office setting can be time-consuming, short screening questionnaires have been developed that can identify individuals at risk, especially the elderly with co-existing debilitating health conditions, who can then be referred for support and/or further evaluation.

Why this study matters

Elderly with visual impairment often have a loss of independence, social isolation, loneliness, and a decreased quality of life, which in turn lead to undiagnosed/untreated affective disorders.

Study design

Patients > 60 years of age attending a macula clinic were screened for depression and anxiety with the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-2) and General Anxiety Disorder (GAD-2) instruments. PHG-9 and GAD-7 were administered to patients who scored > 3 on either or both instruments and referred to psychiatric evaluation as indicated.

Results and conclusion

Of 104 elderly patients > 60 years of age, the best corrected visual acuity was 0.58 LogMAR (20/80 [moderate loss of vision]).

Moreover, 29.8% and 7.7% of the patients had one or more symptoms of depression and significant symptoms of depression, respectively. Similarly, 28.8% and 3.8% of the patients had one or more symptoms of anxiety and significant symptoms of anxiety, respectively.

Original Source

Clancy N, Aslam T, Cackett P. Depression secondary to vision loss in old age and an effective rapid screening tool for undiagnosed cases. Annals of General Psychiatry. 2022;21(1):15.

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