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Cataracts in Older Adults Linked to Depression

Cataracts in older adults may be linked to symptoms of depression, according to a new study published in a journal by Optometry and Vision Science. Worldwide, cataract is the number one cause of vision loss. Read about why and how cataracts develop here. According to the Mayo Clinic, almost half of all Americans in their 60s have some degree of cataracts. Depression, though it can be experienced by people of all ages, is becoming more prevalent in older adults.

There may be a role for cataract surgery in improving mental health in the elderly.

“Our study sheds further light on the complex relationship between aging, vision loss, cataract, and depression and suggests that there may be a role for cataract surgery in improving mental health in the elderly,” said Haifang Wang of Soochow University in Suzhou, China.

The 2014 study, conducted in China, consisted of nearly 4,600 adults ages 60 and older. Each participant received a survey regarding depression. Following the survey, comprehensive eye exams were performed to determine whether cataracts were present and to what extent.

Results showed that nearly half of the participants experienced cataracts in at least one eye, with eight percent of the respondents claiming symptoms of depression. Women with cataracts were also found to have a greater risk of depressive symptoms when compared to men. Those with no formal education showed stronger signs by an increase of 50 percent.

Symptoms of depression were 33 percent more common in older adults with cataracts.

When adjusted, researchers determined that symptoms of depression were 33 percent more common in older adults with cataracts. The researchers also noted that the odds were similar regardless of whether cataracts were found in one or both eyes.

“These results suggest that optometrists and vision care professionals should think beyond the direct effects of cataracts on visual impairment,” mentioned Michael Twa of Optometry and Vision Science. “We should also consider the broader impact that vision loss may have on mental health and well-being.”

According to Twa, additional research should be conducted to determine whether symptoms of depression decrease after an individual experiences cataract surgery. “As a next step, it would be important to know if the associated depression in older adults is reversible following the restoration of vision after cataract surgery.”


Pedersen, T. (2016, December 3). Cataracts Tied to Depression in Older Adults. Retrieved from PsychCentral:

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