Older adults, especially women who have cataract, are more vulnerable to depression, claim researchers in a recent study published in the Optometry and Vision Science journal.
According to researchers from Soochow University in China, the link between cataract and depression is independent of other factors and appears strongest among older adults with lower education.
“Our study sheds further light on the complex relationship between aging, vision loss, cataract and depression and suggests that there may be a role for cataract surgery in improving mental health in the elderly,” the researchers wrote.
For the study, approximately 4,600 adults aged 60 or older completed a depression questionnaire and they also underwent a clinical eye examination to rate the presence and severity of cataract.
They found nearly half (49 percent) of older adults in the study had cataracts in at least one eye. On the depression questionnaire, 8 percent of subjects had depressive symptoms.
Symptoms of depression were more common in women than men (11 versus 5 percent), and more common in older age groups.
Older adults with cataracts were more likely to have depressive symptoms, independent of socio-economic status, lifestyle factors and visual acuity.
On adjusted analysis, symptoms of depression were 33 percent more, when cataracts were present. Importantly, the odds of depressive symptoms were similar for subjects with cataracts in one eye versus both eyes.
The association between cataracts and depression was even stronger for subjects with no formal education — a 50 percent increase.
After all other factors were taken into account, cataract explained 14 percent of the variation in depression risk.
The researchers also noted that their study cannot show the direction of the association — vision loss might cause older adults to become isolated and withdrawn, or depression might make them less likely to seek treatment for cataracts.
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