Vision and Mental Health
Updated: Aug 18, 2022
I hope you all are enjoying your summer so far! Please stay cool while having fun in the sun! This blog will be about the correlation between vision and mental health. I was honored to be contacted by myvision.org, which is a free digital resource led by expert ophthalmologists and optometrists to provide trusted information on eye health and vision. I have taken the pleasure of my time to carefully read through the resources provided by myvision.org to write this blog. Please note that I am sharing information that I have read from myvision.org while researching myself.
Just as there is a correlation between physical health and mental health, as I have emphasized in my previous blog posts, I have ascertained that there is also a link between eye health and mental health. It has been determined by medical researchers, as stated on the myvision.org website, that people who have vision impairments are likely to develop mental health problems such as anxiety and depression due to increased stress of living with their condition. On the other hand, myvision.org indicates that those who have mental health problems are also likely to develop issues with their vision later on in life.
To be more specific, how does vision complications affect one’s mental health? According to the Center for Disease Control & Prevention, 1 in 4 adults with vision loss have reported experiencing anxiety and depression. Also, younger people who experience vision loss were over five times more likely to develop a mental health condition than people aged 65 or older, according to the Center for Disease Control & Prevention. This makes plenty of sense because a loss of vision will deprive one of the ability to form visual memories and interact visually with other people. In addition, myvision.org points out that those who have vision impairments or a loss of vision will have to develop “new strategies to accomplish everyday tasks like cooking, shopping, and even getting around your home”. With these new inconvenient strategies, it can be evident why one would begin to experience anxiety or depression.
Children with visual impairments are more likely to suffer from issues with mental health, such as anxiety and depression, than children without vision impairments. Mental health problems in visually impaired children can be caused by increased dependency on others, reduced mobility, reduced ability to take part in activities with peers, and social difficulties and loneliness, according to myvision.org. Fortunately, children with visual impairments who are taught to be more independent and able to participate in more social opportunities will have improved mental health.
Myvision.org listed specific vision problems that lead to blindness or extreme impairment that are the most likely to cause mental health problems; these include diabetic retinopathy, age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, and retinitis pigmentosa. Three of the aforementioned conditions are actually some of the most common vision problems in the United States. This is because according to myvision.org, glaucoma affects 3 million Americans; diabetic retinopathy affects 4.1 million Americans (less than 1 million have a case severe enough to put their vision as a risk however); age-related macular degeneration affects 1.8 million Americans, while 7.3 million have an increased risk of developing the condition in the future. Furthermore, cataracts affect around 20.5 million Americans, according to myvision.org. Fortunately, cataracts don’t have the same mental health impact as other serious eye conditions because cataract treatment is widely offered and can help to reverse the effects of the treatment. In short, getting treatment for these eye conditions will go a long way in improving one’s mental outlook and life, but does not completely reverse the mental health impacts, according to myvision.org.
In addition, mental health conditions can often lead to vision issues. Myvision.org indicates that people with bipolar disorder or schizophrenia are more likely to develop glaucoma later on life, and that people who have major depressive disorder have a higher risk for glaucoma and dry-eye syndrome and age-related macular degeneration. Although researchers do not completely understand the correlation between mental health conditions and vision issues, they cite stress and neurological roots, according to myvision.org.
Now that you’ve read about the correlation between mental health and vision issues, how do you prevent or cope with vision problems to ensure good mental health? Well myvision.org offers some great suggestions. First, one should learn as much as possible about one’s condition. Also, one should meet with a therapeutic counselor. Also, one should embrace the grieving process because it is normal to feel strong emotions after losing one’s sight. Finally, one should explore how to use assistive devices and adjustment classes can help one maintain one’s quality of life.
In addition, myvision.org provides ways to keep our eyes and mind healthy. Eating well with a balanced diet will provide all the vitamins and minerals needed to keep one’s eyes healthy. Staying active with physical activity will produce mood-boosting brain chemicals and decrease the risk of developing conditions that result in vision problems, like diabetes and high blood pressure. Also, please refrain from smoking, as smoking can damage one’s optic nerve and increase the risk of eye problems like age-related macular degeneration and cataracts. Finally, try to visit your eye doctor regularly, as comprehensive eye exams can determine the most vision problems, even in the early stages.
Myvision.org also lists ways to get help if you or another one experiences the mental health effects due to vision loss. First, reach out to your doctor for assistance, as your doctor can prescribe medication or refer you to a specialist for further treatment. Next, you can reach out to national advocacy groups and professional networks devoted to assisting people with vision loss; such organizations exist to help connect people who experience vision loss to mental health professionals who are experienced in handling their unique concerns. Also, don’t hesitate to consult your insurance company, which can provide you with a list of counselors in your local area which has services covered under the plan. There are also discounted or free therapy sessions at a local college or university, offered by psychology, social work, or counseling departments, which is an excellent point brought up by myvision.org.
Below are the links to the guides for myvision.org:
Thank you so much for reading this blog, which is a partnership with myvision.org. I’m honored to have been contacted by them to spread their information about the correlation between vision issues and mental health. By reading the information provided myvision.org, I learned a lot about the correlation as well. I really enjoyed writing this blog, and if you are reading this blog and would like me to share any important information you have on my blog, I am happy to do so. Please just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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