Patients with ocular disease or impaired vision may be depressed, and ODs can help. Consider screening patients with low vision and ocular disease. Learn about depression and suicide risks and how to recognize both, gather resources to offer patients in need, and make sure patients know ODs are willing to listen.
Optometrists may encounter patients who are depressed due to their vision loss. Some may remark that they feel like prisoners in their own home (feelings of social isolation), while others may mention having suicidal thoughts.
Patients experiencing reduced or low vision due to age-related macular degeneration (AMD), glaucoma, corneal disease, and other ocular conditions may be at risk.
As optometrists we are well versed in the ocular side effects of antidepressants and related medications, but what else should we know?
Suicide in the news
Since the recent suicides of celebrities Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, there has been increased media attention and discussion concerning mental health and depression.
The World Health Organization reports that depression is one of the leading causes of disability in the world with over 300 million people affected and has increased by more than 18 percent between 2005 and 2015.1 Depression is treatable with medications and psychotherapy.2
However, many people with mental disorders go untreated3 possibly due to its stigma, poor awareness, lack of insurance coverage, and economic or cultural concerns.
Dr. Wolynski is a 2000 graduate of the New England College of Optometry. In addition to private practice he practices at a community health center for patients with special needs and consults for OrCam Technologies and the Florida Heiken Children’s Vision Program, a division of the Miami Lighthouse. He is proud to have taught his nephew Jacob to swim this summer. [email protected]
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13. National Eye Institute. Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD). Available at: https://nei.nih.gov/ eyedata/amd. Accessed 7/10/18.
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25. Centers for Disease Control. Suicide rising across the US. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/suicide/ index.html. Accessed 8/15/18.
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