Depression can hit people at any age, but it is especially debilitating to the elderly. Depression can lead to a failure to thrive, which can be life-threatening. A new study published by the American Academy of Optometry has discovered why so many elderly people are depressed. The study determined that older people who have cataracts are more likely to be depressed [AB1] when compared to people without cataracts. Discovering this link is the first step in helping the elderly overcome depression.
Researchers studied a large group of older Chinese adults for the study. Close to half of the subjects had cataracts, and 8 percent had symptoms related to depression. Those with cataracts in at least one eye were 33 percent more likely to demonstrate various depressive symptoms.
Out of the people who demonstrated depressive symptoms, 11 percent were women and 5 percent were men. The researchers also discovered that the older subjects were more likely to suffer from depression. For example, someone who is 80 is more likely to suffer when compared to someone who is 70.
Cataract suffers without formal education were also more likely to be depressed. The researchers found a 50 percent increase with this group.
However, lifestyle factors, visual acuity, and socioeconomic status did not seem to play a role in the depression. In fact, the presence of cataracts, age, and the amount of education were the only factors associated with depression that researchers could find. It didn’t matter how developed the cataracts were or if they were in one or two eyes.
Which Came First? The Depression or the Cataracts?
The researchers were not able to determine if the people were depressed prior to having cataracts or if the vision loss caused the depression. For instance, people might become withdrawn when their vision gets worse, and that could cause the depression. At the same time, they might already be depressed when they develop cataracts, and the depression prevents them from seeking help.
Researchers might not be able to tell if cataracts cause depression or if depression causes people to avoid treatment, but the study does show mental health’s role regarding physical health. Because of that, it is important that people seek treatment if they have cataracts. Cataract surgery takes less than an hour and it is relatively painless. Then, people who suffer from depression might be able to get their lives back.
Of course, their loved ones need to talk to them about the importance of treatment. That way, people will be less likely to let depression hold them back from seeking treatment. Then, they can enjoy the benefits that come with good vision.
If you have cataracts or you know someone who does, we can help. Our Shelton, Connecticut facility handles same-day cataract surgery. You will be in and out quickly, and you will notice an improvement with your vision immediately. We will continue with follow-up care to make sure that you feel better. Then, you will be ready to go back out into the world. Once you are able to mingle with friends, you will feel much better.