12 Dec Examining the Mental Health Effects of Vision Issues
As it turns out, your vision can have a greater impact on your mental health than you might realize. Vision problems often add strain or difficulty to our daily lives, so if they are left untreated, the consequences can be anywhere from depressing to disastrous.
How common are eye problems?
More often than not, we take our eyes and eyesight for granted, but they are just as important to take care of as other organs in our bodies. Our eyes are bound to become affected by external factors, so it’s no surprise that currently, there are over 2 billion people in the world dealing with either myopia or presbyopia.
How common are eye problems?
- 12 million people over the age of 40 have vision impairment.
- About 1 million people are blind.
- Nearly 7% of children under the age of 18 are diagnosed with a vision or eye condition.
- Over 4 million Americans ages 40 and above had uncorrectable vision impairment.
- For adults, vision disabilities are one of the top 10 disabilities in the United States.
Even though eye problems are incredibly common, they are also relatively simple and easy to treat. With regular routine and care, there is less potential for a negative impact on mental health. When left untreated, vision issues can dramatically reduce our well-being overtime.
What are the different mental health impacts of vision problems?
If left untreated, vision problems, stemming anywhere from dry eye to cataracts, myopia, and even blindness, can seriously take their toll on our mental health. What are some potential mental health problems that can occur with untreated vision problems?
Visually impaired people, or people who are actively losing their vision, are twice at risk of developing depression. Learning to adjust to a new lifestyle with lost eyesight can be frustrating and stressful, and at times downright hopeless. For many, social withdrawal becomes the easier option, which only allows for the depression to grow stronger.
Additionally, less than 20 percent of people who are visually impaired are offered the necessary emotional support for their condition. This is an extreme risk to those who are losing their vision, as depression can even result in poor eye health care or management, which in turn may exacerbate or accelerate their vision loss.
Anxiety or chronic stress
Vision loss can increase the risk for anxiety or chronic stress, as it can be frustrating adjusting to new glasses or a new lifestyle altogether. You may have a hard time recognizing people, places, or just keeping up with your everyday activities. This added stress is a contributing factor for even more vision issues, like glaucoma or optic neuropathy, which can lead to further vision loss. As stress builds up cortisol in the body, it can also cause a severe imbalance in your physical and mental health systems.
Taking advantage of various treatment options:
There are so many treatments to help you take care of both vision and mental health problems so that you can provide yourself the relief your lifestyle needs:
- Cataract removal surgery
- LASIK surgery, for refractive error corrections
- Corrective lenses, like eyeglasses or contacts
- Eye medications or treatments
- Mental health treatments
It’s important to find the right treatments for your eye health, along with the right treatments for your mental health. Make sure to note any mental health medications that may exacerbate your eye problems, and find the ones that work best for you.
And of course, find time to book your yearly eye exam!