Depression and acquired visual impairment

1 May 2009
Volume 10, Issue 2

Advice to practitioners dealing with patients who may become depressed.

Introduction

Depression is a relatively common mental disorder characterized by low mood or loss of interest in activities and hobbies (American Psychiatric Association 2000; World Health Organization 2007). In recent years it has become apparent that individuals who acquire visual impairment in later life are more likely to be depressed compared to their sighted peers. Depression can be seen as a normal part of the bereavement process that occurs after a loss such as the onset of visual impairment. However, it can persist and have negative consequences. Therefore it is important for practitioners, whether community-based optometrists, dispensing opticians or hospital-based low-vision practitioners, to be aware of the prevalence of depression along with the effects that depression may have on their patients, and to consider what actions may be relevant for the practitioner to take. 

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