Patients diagnosed with low vision should be encouraged to speak to their GP about how they are feeling and an opportunity exists for eye specialists to collaborate better with GPs and psychologists during a patient’s treatment, according to a study conducted by Centre for Eye Research Australia (CERA).
The study authors noted that referring vision impaired patients to a GP for treatment significantly decreases symptoms of depression. The study, funded by a beyondblue Victorian Centre of Excellence in Depression and Anxiety grant, found adults with vision impairment commonly experience depression, however it often remains undetected and untreated.
The negative impact of vision loss on mental health and quality of life can also be profound, and there is stigma around seeking help for depression.
The study found that 46 per cent of vision impaired adults met with a GP after a referral from their low vision rehabilitation service. These GPs were considered to be active in the managing their patients’ depressive symptoms, with antidepressant medication the most commonly prescribed treatment.
Half of the study participants reported that their GP recommended they see a psychologist, but the uptake was low.
“We can clearly see the benefits of encouraging patients to consult with their GP to discuss how they are feeling,” said Principal Investigator of Behavioural Research in Ophthalmology at CERA, Dr. Gwyneth Rees.
“The study also identified the need to address the barriers preventing patients visiting psychologists which is an important area for future research.”