(HealthDay News) – Self-reported vision loss is significantly associated with depression, according to a study published online March 7 in JAMA Ophthalmology.

Xinzhi Zhang, MD, PhD, from the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md., and colleagues analyzed data from 10,480 U.S. adults aged ≥20 years of age participating in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (2005–2008). A nine-item Patient Health Questionnaire depression scale was used to measure depression. Vision loss was measured through a questionnaire and by a visual acuity examination.

The researchers found that from 2005–2008, the estimated crude prevalence of depression was 11.3%  based on the nine-item Patient Health Questionnaire (score ≥10) among adults with self-reported visual function loss and 4.8% among adults without. Among adults with presenting visual acuity impairment (visual acuity worse than 20/40 in the better-seeing eye), the estimated prevalence of depression was 10.7%, compared with 6.8% among adults with normal visual acuity. 

Self-reported visual function loss remained significantly associated with depression (overall odds ratio, 1.9; 95% confidence interval, 1.6–2.3) when controlling for age, sex, race/ethnicity, marital status, living alone or not, education, income, employment status, health insurance, body mass index, smoking, binge drinking, general health status, eyesight worry, and major chronic conditions. When controlling for these factors, the association between presenting visual acuity impairment and depression was no longer statistically significant.

“Self-reported visual function loss, rather than loss of visual acuity, is significantly associated with depression,” the authors write.

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