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Ophthalmology. 2001 Oct;108(10):1893-900; discussion 1900-1.

Depression, visual acuity, comorbidity, and disability associated with age-related macular degeneration.

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  • 1Department of Ophthalmology, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California 92093-0946, USA.



To examine (1) the prevalence of depressive disorders in community-dwelling adults with advanced age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and (2) the relationship in this population between depression, visual acuity, the number of comorbid medical conditions, disability caused by vision loss as measured by the National Eye Institute-Vision Function Questionnaire (NEI-VFQ) and the vision-specific Sickness Impact Profile (SIPV), and disability caused by overall health status as measured by the Sickness Impact Profile-68 (SIP).


Analysis of cross-sectional baseline data from a randomized clinical trial.


Participants were 151 adults aged 60 and older (mean age, 80 years) with advanced macular degeneration whose vision was 20/60 or worse in their better eye.


Subjects were interviewed using measures of depression, disability, and chronic medical conditions. Visual acuity was obtained. Nonparametric correlation analyses and linear regression analyses were performed.


Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV (SCID-IV), Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS), NEI-VFQ, SIPV, and SIP.


Of the participants, 32.5% (n = 49) met SCID-IV criteria for depressive disorder, twice the rate observed in previous studies of community-dwelling elderly. Over and above depression (GDS), visual acuity aided in prediction of the level of vision-specific disability (NEI-VFQ and SIPV).


Depressive disorder is a significant problem for the elderly afflicted with advanced macular degeneration. Further research on psychopharmacologic and psychotherapeutic interventions for depressed AMD patients is warranted to improve depression and enhance functioning. Over and above depression, visual acuity aided in predicting vision-specific disability. Treatment strategies that teach patients to cope with vision loss should be developed and evaluated.

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