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    How ODs can help combat depression in glaucoma patients

     Researchers have found a significant correlation between depression and visual field loss in patients with glaucoma, according to a study recently published in Ophthalmology.

    Researchers evaluated 102 patients with glaucomatous visual field defects on standard automated perimetry (SAP). Each patient completed a Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS) questionnaire and visual field tests obtained over approximately two years. The GDS questionnaire asks 15 yes-or-no questions, such as “Are you satisfied with your life?” and “Do you feel that your situation is hopeless?” to evaluate the patient’s state of mind.

    Blog: Hollow victory: Why our glaucoma victory felt meaningless

    Researchers assessed change in depressive symptoms by calculating the difference between GDS scores at the last follow-up visit from those at baseline, while rates of visual field loss were assessed by SAP, and mean sensitivity (MS) over time were obtained from linear mixed models. Researchers then used regression models to investigate the association between progressive visual field loss and changes in depressive symptoms, adjusting for potentially confounding clinical and socioeconomic variables.

    Study results

    The study found that each one decibel (dB)/year change in binocular SAP MS was associated with a change of two units in the GDS scores during the follow-up period. In a multivariable model adjusting for baseline disease severity, change in visual acuity, age, gender, race, Montreal Cognitive Assessment score, education, income, and comorbidity index, each one dB/year change in binocular SAP MS was associated with a change of three units in the GDS score.

    “Our findings suggest that rates of change may be indicative of the risk for developing depressive symptoms in patients with glaucoma,” the study’s authors write, “and they emphasize the need for an accurate and precise assessment of rates of change in monitoring this disease.”

    The study’s authors recognized that the average follow-up time for the study was relatively short considering the long-term duration of glaucoma.

    Even with the study’s the time frame, investigators found statistically significant association between longitudinal changes in SAP and GDS scores. They acknowledge that longer-term follow-up may offer better information.

    Related: Understanding drainage in glaucoma surgery

    Optometry Times Editorial Advisory Board member Mohammad Rafieetary, OD, FAAO, notes that the connection between vision loss and depression has been documented previously, but says that it is interesting that this study was able to observe the progression of the GDS score correlated to the loss of visual field in such a linear fashion.

    “We have to ponder, aside from adjusting from age, gender, etc., if frustrations with dealing with a chronic disease (compliance, cost, logistics), particularly in view of failure in spite of therapy, plays a role in the degree of patient’s depression as opposed to only the loss of visual function,” says Dr. Rafieetary.

    Next: What you can do to identify depression

    Colleen E. McCarthy
    Colleen McCarthy is a freelance writer based in the Cleveland area and a former editor of Optometry Times. She is a 2010 graduate of the ...


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    • Anonymous
      Iatrogenic Glaucoma? Beta Blockers and CAI's list depression as known side effects. Perhaps Prostaglandins should be studied for a possible link to depression.
    • Anonymous
      Iatrogenic Glaucoma?
    • Anonymous

    Optometry Times A/V