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Eyeglasses Upgrade Helps Elderly Battle Depression

Simple intervention boosted vision, eased depressive symptoms, study found

MONDAY, Nov. 12 (HealthDay News) -- Correcting nursing home residents' poor vision not only boosts quality of life, it may lower risks for depression, U.S. researchers report.

A team at the University of Alabama at Birmingham studied 78 nursing home residents, 55 and older, who received eyeglasses one week after having an eye exam and 64 residents who received eyeglasses two months after an eye check-up.

The residents' vision-related quality-of-life and depressive symptoms were assessed at the start of the study and again two months later.

At the start of the study, both groups had similar medical/demographic characteristics and similar visual acuity and refractive error. After two months, those who received eyeglasses at the start of the study showed improvement in distance and near visual acuity, while those who didn't receive eyeglasses showed no change in visual acuity.

Also at two months, residents who received eyeglasses had higher scores for general vision, reading, activities, hobbies, social interaction, and fewer depressive symptoms, said the study, which was published in the November issue of the journal Archives of Ophthalmology.

"This study implies that there are significant, short-term quality-of-life and psychological benefits to providing the most basic of eye care services -- namely, spectacle correction -- to older adults residing in nursing homes," the researchers concluded.

"These findings underscore the need for a systematic evaluation of the factors underlying the pervasive unavailability of eye care to nursing home residents in the United States so that steps can be taken to improve delivery and eye care utilization."

More information

The U.S. National Institute on Aging has more about aging and eyes.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: JAMA/Archives journals, news release, Nov. 12, 2007

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