About Vision Loss and Mental Health

Key Points

  • Over 7 million people have vision loss. Many more millions of US adults are at risk for severe vision loss.
  • Vision loss can be associated with age and chronic health conditions. The United States has an aging population and an increase in chronic conditions.
  • Find out how vision loss can affect mental health, and how to keep your eyes and mind healthy.
elderly man at the eye doctor

Vision loss, depression and anxiety

Vision loss can affect your physical health, quality of life, and your mental health. Vision loss has been linked to loneliness, social isolation, and feelings of worry, anxiety, and fear.

Depression is common in people with vision loss. In a recent CDC study, 1 in 4 adults with vision loss reported anxiety or depression. Younger adults with vision loss had almost 5 times the risk of serious anxiety or depression compared to older adults.

Untreated anxiety can increase the risk of developing depression. People who have vision loss should be screened for depression and anxiety. The sooner these problems are treated, the better their quality of life will be.

Symptoms of depression and anxiety

Talk with your doctor if you're having symptoms of anxiety or depression. You can also ask for a referral to talk to a mental health counselor.

Some common symptoms of anxiety are:

  • Trouble controlling feelings of worry.
  • Trouble focusing.
  • Trouble sleeping.
  • Feeling restless or on edge.
  • Being irritable.

Some common symptoms of depression are:

  • Lack of interest in hobbies and activities.
  • Often feeling sad or anxious.
  • Feeling helpless or worthless.
  • Appetite and/or weight changes.
  • Fatigue or lack of energy.

Tips for healthy eyes and a healthy mind

Add movement to your day. Physical activity lowers your risk of developing health problems. It can also boost your mood and reduce stress.

Eat healthy. Nutritious food can improve your mood. It helps lower your risk of type 2 diabetes and diabetic retinopathy—one of the leading causes of vision loss.

Talk with your doctor about your family history. Both mental health disorders and eye diseases can run in families.

Don't smoke. People with mental health problems have a higher risk of serious health problems, often from smoking-related illness. Smoking also increases your risk of developing an eye disease that can cause vision loss.

Manage your chronic conditions. Long-term health conditions such as cancer, heart disease, and diabetes may increase your chance of developing a mental health problem. Make sure to take your medicines as prescribed and make recommended lifestyle changes to help manage your health.