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Profound vision loss impairs psychological well-being in young and middle-aged individuals

Authors Garcia GA, Khoshnevis M, Gale J, Frousiakis SE, Hwang TJ, Poincenot L, Karanjia R, Baron D, Sadun AA

Received 23 May 2016

Accepted for publication 8 July 2016

Published 22 February 2017 Volume 2017:11 Pages 417—427

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/OPTH.S113414

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Colin Mak

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Scott Fraser

Giancarlo A Garcia,1,2 Matin Khoshnevis,1,3 Jesse Gale,1,4 Starleen E Frousiakis,1,5 Tiffany J Hwang,1,6 Lissa Poincenot,1 Rustum Karanjia,1,7–9 David Baron,6 Alfredo A Sadun1,7

1Doheny Eye Institute, Los Angeles, CA, USA; 2University of California, Irvine School of Medicine, Irvine, CA, USA; 3Department of Ophthalmology, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA, USA; 4Wellington School of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Otago, Wellington, NZ; 5Department of Ophthalmology, New York Medical College, Valhalla, NY, USA; 6Department of Psychiatry & The Behavioral Sciences, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, USA; 7Doheny Eye Centers, Department of Ophthalmology, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, Los Angeles California, CA, USA; 8Department of Ophthalmology, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, ON, Canada; 9Ottawa Hospital Health Research Institute, Ottawa, ON, Canada

Purpose: The aim of this study was to evaluate the effects of profound vision loss on psychological well-being in adolescents, young adults, and middle-aged adults with regard to mood, interpersonal interactions, and career-related goals. In addition, we assessed the significance of the resources that may be used to enhance psychological well-being in cases of profound vision loss, and in particular, examined the utility of low vision aids and the role of the ophthalmologist as a provider of emotional support.
Methods: A questionnaire was issued to individuals aged 13–65 years with profound vision loss resulting from Leber’s hereditary optic neuropathy (LHON). Depression prevalence was evaluated with questions regarding major depressive disorder symptomatology. Participants appraised the effects of vision loss on their interpersonal interactions and career goals by providing an impact rating (IR) on a 21-point psychometric scale from −10 to +10. Social well-being index was defined as the average of interpersonal IR and career IR. Subjects were additionally asked about the use of low vision aids and sources of emotional support.
Results: A total of 103 participants (mean age =26.4±11.2 years at LHON diagnosis; mean ± standard deviation) completed the questionnaire. Nearly half (49.5%) met the depression criteria after vision loss. Negative impacts on interpersonal interactions (median IR = -5) and career goals (median IR = −6) were observed; both ratings were worse (P<0.001) for depressed versus nondepressed subjects. Older age at diagnosis corresponded to higher depression prevalence and increased incidence of negative interpersonal IR and career IR. Sixty-eight percent of subjects used electronic vision aids; controlling for age, social well-being index was higher among these individuals than for those who did not use electronic aids (P=0.03). Over half of the participants (52.4%) asserted that they derived emotional support from their ophthalmologist.
Conclusion: Profound vision loss in adolescents, young adults, and middle-aged adults is associated with significant negative psychological and psychosocial effects, which are influenced by age and use of electronic vision aids. Ophthalmologists, in addition to managing vision loss, may serve an important role in the emotional adaptation of these patients.

Keywords: vision loss, psychological, depression, low vision aids, quality of life, Leber’s hereditary optic neuropathy
 
A Letter to the Editor has been received and published for this article. 

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