Study Says Cataract May be an Indication of Depression in Older Adults

According to the World Health Organization cataract, common among older adults, is a leading cause of blindness in the world. Moreover, looking at the relationship between aging and cataract, a recent study, published in the journal Optometry and Vision Science in December 2016, has revealed that elderly people who have cataract are more prone to depression.

The study, led by Haifang Wang, M.Sc., from the University of Soochow, Suzhou, China, said that the association between depression and cataracts is independent of other factors. In addition, the mental disorder seems to be more prominent among the elderly who have a lower education level. The researchers said that cataract surgery may have an important role to play in the mental health of the elderly population. Cataract clouds the lens of the eyes that either blurs the vision or causes a complete loss of vision.

For the study, the researchers analyzed the data of a large community-based survey, comprising 4,600 older people (60 years and older) in a Chinese town. The participants had to complete a questionnaire on depression as well as go through a clinical eye test to check for the severity or presence of cataracts in their eyes.

Association stronger in people with no formal education

The researchers made the following observations:

• Close to 49 percent older adults had cataracts in at least one eye (this excludes people who already had a cataract surgery).

• Regarding the questionnaire on depression, at least 8 percent participants had symptoms of depression.

• Depression was more prominent in women compared to men (11:5 percent); it was prevalent in the older population.

• The link between depression and cataract was stronger in respondents who had no formal education. It increased the risk of developing depression by 50 percent.

• After taking into consideration factors like socio-economic status, lifestyle and education, it was found that cataracts caused 14 percent of the variation in depression risk in the participants.

However, the researchers could not ascertain the sequence between the two, as to which preceded the other — whether it is vision loss that is responsible for the older population becoming recluses or it is due to depression that they refrain from seeking treatment for cataract. To find an answer to this dilemma, and deduce the relationship between the two, further extensive research is required.

According to experts, optometrists should get a larger picture of the scenario and should not stick to the standard analysis of a patient’s cataract problem. “These results suggest that optometrists and vision care professionals should think beyond the direct effects of cataracts on visual impairment. We should also consider the broader impact that vision loss may have on mental health and well-being,” said Michael Twa, O.D., Ph.D., F.A.A.O., editor-in-chief of the Optometry and Vision Science.

Dealing with depression

Depression is one of the most common mental health conditions among people and it can affect anyone, cutting across age, gender and economic status. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), in the United States, in 2015, 16.1 million adults aged 18 or older had at least one major depressive episode in the past year. The milder symptoms can be managed with changes in lifestyle but for the more persistent and complicated symptoms, it is imperative to seek immediate treatment.

If a loved one is grappling with depression and you think that they need help, contact the Depression Treatment Helpline of Colorado to avail the services of a quality Depression rehab in Colorado for a long-term recovery. Call at our 24/7 helpline number 866–427–5668 to know about the most successful depression treatment centers in Colorado. One should not delay the treatment or it can lead to worsening of the symptoms where the situation can get out of hand.