Mental Health & Vision

It’s Mental Health Awareness Week, 2021, an annual event that recognises the importance of emotional wellbeing.

In 2021, the theme is Nature, to encourage people to use fresh air & exercise as a source of wellbeing management.

There are numerous links between vision loss, eye-sight problems, wearing glasses and our mental health. Interestingly, many of the advised methods of combating mental health problems such as getting fresh air, exercise and being around nature also have positive effects on our eye-health.

It’s easy for those with poor vision to begin to feel isolated as their daily interaction with other people decreases. This, and an increasing dependency on people around them can contribute to depression, anxiety and an overall decline in mental health.

Eye Disease & Mental Health

Worsening vision can bring a multitude of health concerns with it – and not just physical health concerns. The link between failing vision and declining mental health has recently been brought to the spotlight. Research indicates that people suffering from vision loss are twice as likely to to suffer from depression. It can also work in reverse with depressed patients far less likely to make recommended changes to limit blindness. These include reducing or quitting drinking and smoking, as well as increasing exercise and time outdoors. The lack of changes can exacerbate any gradual loss of vision, which in turn can worsen their depression.

Similarly, blindness or loss of vision often comes as a side effect of psychiatric treatment medication, interfering with pupil dilation and potentially acting as a catalyst for short-sightedness/myopia. Further to this, some anti-psychotic medications increase a person’s risk of diabetes, leading to diabetic retinopathy – the number one cause of vision impairment in working-age adults.

Mental Health Matters reference studies state that “vision loss is directly proportional to the risk of depression’. This is because poor vision impacts upon nearly every daily activity, from reading, watching TV, recognising friends in the street to cooking dinner. It’s easy for those with poor vision to feel increasingly isolated.

Children’s Vision & Their Mental Health

Increased screen time and decreased outdoor play among school age children and teens has been shown to reduce emotional stability and cause repeated distractions and difficulty in completing tasks and ability to focus while also increasing the likelihood of developing short-sightedness.

Children with visual problems often experience difficulty in school. If they can’t see the board and displays clearly or regularly struggle with homework due to poor vision, their progression in academia is likely to suffer, as will their happiness throughout the school process.

Many children have no idea their vision is impaired & needlessly struggle in school.

Top Tips For Healthy Children’s Eyes

  • Limit Screen Time.
  • Ensure Screens Are At Least Arm’s Length In Distance.
  • Increase Outdoor Time & Fresh Air.
  • Protect Against UV Rays, wearing sunglasses throughout the year.
  • Have regular eye-tests & keep up-to-date prescriptions. (these are free on the NHS for all 16 & under!)