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Hilde P. A. van der Aa, Hannie C. Comijs, Brenda W. J. H. Penninx, Ger H. M. B. van Rens, Ruth M. A. van Nispen; Major Depressive and Anxiety Disorders in Visually Impaired Older Adults. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2015;56(2):849-854. doi: 10.1167/iovs.14-15848.
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We assessed the prevalence of subthreshold depression and anxiety, and major depressive, dysthymic, and anxiety disorders (panic disorder, agoraphobia, social phobia, and general anxiety disorder) in visually impaired older adults and compared these estimates with those of normally sighted peers.
Cross-sectional data were analyzed based on telephone interviews with visually impaired older adults aged ≥ 60 years (n = 615) with a visual acuity of ≥ 0.30 logMAR (20/40 Snellen) in the best eye from outpatient low vision rehabilitation centers, and face-to-face interviews with community-dwelling normally sighted peers (n = 1232). To determine prevalence rates, the normally sighted population was weighted on sex and age to fit the visually impaired population. Logistic regression analyses were used to compare the populations and to correct for confounders.
The prevalence of major depressive disorder (5.4%) and anxiety disorders (7.5%), as well as the prevalence of subthreshold depression (32.2%) and subthreshold anxiety (15.6%), were significantly higher in visually impaired older adults compared to their normally sighted peers (P < 0.05). Agoraphobia and social phobia were the most prevalent anxiety disorders in visually impaired older adults.
This study shows that depression and anxiety are major public health problems in visually impaired older adults. Research on psychotherapeutic and psychopharmacologic interventions to improve depression and anxiety in this population is warranted. (http://www.trialregister.nl number, NTR3296.)
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