Why seeing an optometrist needs to be part of your mental health plan
As our population ages, eye health is as an increasingly important part of the mental health conversation.
According to one US study, adults with visual function loss are at least 90 per cent more likely to have depression than those without visual function loss.
Studies have shown that vision loss is among the most common chronic conditions associated with depression in old age. Around 12 million Australians have reported long-term eye conditions yet 75 per cent of all vision impairment is preventable or treatable. We encourage all Australians to see their optometrist for regular eye examinations.
Detecting age-related diseases like macular degeneration and glaucoma as early as possible is crucial in slowing the progression of the diseases and curbing the associated risk of depression.
Studies have shown people with impaired vision often report that they feel unhappy, lonely, or even hopeless.
It’s important to check in with those living with vision loss.
Optometrists understand the link between eye health and mental health, and are equipped to ask at-risk patients how they are feeling.
People may delay seeing an optometrist, thinking nothing can be done to stop vision loss. However, as well as treating the progression of eye diseases, optometrists also offer solutions like visual aids so their patients can continue doing the things that bring them joy and purpose.
People who are depressed may not seek out eye care when experiencing visual difficulties. They also may not realise, unless asked, that they even have difficulties with their vision.
Unhealthy combo: Men are less likely to get help with their mental health and their eye health
Medicare statistics reveal that of the 8.67 million optometric services provided in 2016, women received around 57.6 per cent of those services and men, 42.4 per cent.
Men are also less likely to get the help they need for anxiety and depression, with Australian Bureau of Statistics data showing only 27 per cent of men seek professional help, compared with 40 per cent of women.
If you or someone you know needs help with mental health, call:
Lifeline on 13 11 14
Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800
MensLine Australia on 1300 789 978
This article was written by Good Vision for Life, an Optometry Australia Initiative.