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Are Your Eyes the Window into Your Mental Health?

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Poor vision can be more than an inconvenience. It can have a severe impact on your day-to-day life, in a whole range of ways. In particular, there are certain varieties of eye disease and visual impairment that can directly affect your mood, leading to depression and anxiety. More generally, a lack of visual clarity isn’t much fun, whatever the root cause of it might be.

If you have extremely dry eyes as a result of macular degeneration, then you might find yourself unable to read, drive, or even recognise faces. This can affect your ability to live life on a day-to-day basis, and it can severely impact your mood. 

The University of Aberdeen even has even developed a test that promises to identify a range of mental illnesses simply by examining the eyes and the way that they react.

What about cataracts?

Cataracts can often be remedied very quickly. As such, there’s a large body of research determining the effect of treatment on mental health outcomes. Put simply, we can ask patients how they’re feeling before they undergo the treatment, and how they feel afterwards.

Mission for Vision is a non-profit looking to deal with avoidable blindness in parts of Asia and Africa. They’ve determined that around a third of those suffering from cataracts experienced severe depression. This came about because their daily routines were impacted by an inability to see properly.

Among the biggest concerns about those polled was the fear of further degeneration. This is understandable; if you fear the consequences of further loss, it might make the loss you’ve already experienced that much more difficult to bear. It’s easy to see (no pun intended) why a person who had experienced total visual loss from an early age might find it easier to deal with than someone who has gotten used to living with vision, only to have it gradually erode later in life. 

What can you do to help yourself?

If you feel that your eyesight is suffering, and that your mental health is suffering as a result, then it’s reasonable to talk to a professional about it. If you don’t, then you might end up misdiagnosing your symptoms, and missing out on the true root cause.

In many cases, it might be that a short trip to the opticians is enough to remedy your eyesight, and treat your depression at the same time. If you’d prefer not to wear glasses, then contact lenses might be an appealing alternative.

If you know that you’re feeling depressed, then there are many ways that you can treat, or even reverse the symptoms. Think about your lifestyle, and what changes you might make to it. Exercise, meditation, and simply talking more often to friends can all have a considerable impact.

Dennis Relojo-Howell is the managing director of Psychreg.


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