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Invited Commentary
May 30, 2019

Addressing the Maze of Vision Loss and Depression

Author Affiliations
  • 1Lighthouse Guild, New York, New York
JAMA Ophthalmol. 2019;137(7):832-833. doi:10.1001/jamaophthalmol.2019.1234

The high rate of depression in individuals with vision loss is well documented, with cross-sectional studies1-4 providing robust evidence of an association between vision loss and depression. Individuals with vision loss are 2 to 3 times more likely to be depressed than the general population. In the United States, 11.3% of adults with self-reported vision loss have depression vs 4.8% of adults with no reported vision loss.5 Loss of vision frequently results in an inability to engage in activities that affect quality of life, and vision loss is reported to have a greater impact on day-to-day living (ie, activities of daily living and instrumental activities of daily living) than losing memory, a limb, speech, or hearing.6 Onset of legal blindness may result in as large as a 78% increase in the likelihood of activities of daily living limitations.7 Because self-reported loss of functional vision (vision required to perform everyday tasks) rather than loss of visual acuity has been implicated, functional vision measures may provide better insight into how patients’ vision is associated with their task performance and subsequent development of depression. One easy way to help patients is to ask a simple question: “Because of your eyesight, are you unable to do things you want to do?”