A diagnosis of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) can cause depression in some individuals. It’s understandable why this would be the case, as AMD leads to visual impairment that can interfere with activities and pastimes that give life its meaning.
According to multiple studies, rates of depression among people with AMD is very high. One study found that older adults with vision problems are twice as likely to be depressed as those with no visual impairment. The high rates of depression in older adults with AMD are consistent with the rates of older adults with chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes or cardiovascular disease.
How AMD Can Lead to Depression
If you or someone you love was recently diagnosed with AMD, it’s important to be aware of the symptoms of depression and why they occur. Below are reasons why macular degeneration has such an impact on a person’s life.
Lowered Quality of Life
AMD impairs vision, which restricts people on what they can and can’t do. Knowing that they can no longer drive or participate in some of their favorite pastimes can be emotionally debilitating. Not only does AMD impact activities and hobbies that improve quality of life but also daily living and daily functioning.
Loss of Independence
When an older adult struggles to do normal, everyday things such as showering or cooking, it strips them of their independence. It’s common for people with AMD to feel that they lack control over their lives. They can no longer hop in the car, drive to the store, buy groceries and cook a meal. They now depend on others to help them, and this can create a sense of helplessness.
AMD puts restrictions on people because they can no longer drive or walk to where they want to go. As a result, some older adults with vision impairment will isolate themselves from others. They may also be embarrassed about not being able to see well, so they may choose not to attend events and activities they are invited to. Without adequate socialization, it’s easy to fall into depression.
Next Steps After Being Diagnosed with AMD
Age-related macular degeneration does not have a cure, but there are ways to manage the condition. The first step is working with a qualified retina specialist who will go over your options. Treatment for AMD may include injections, laser therapy, vitamins or surgery.
It’s also important to know that AMD does not usually take away all of your eyesight. You will still have your peripheral or side vision and can enjoy many activities. Keeping a positive outlook and working with a retina specialist will give you the best chances of leading a rich, full life well into your later years.