Quick Study

Quick Study

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


For the infirm elderly, depression may be eased with glasses.

THE QUESTION Does correcting older people's blurry vision with eyeglasses affect more than their sight?

THIS STUDY involved 151 nursing home residents, most in their late 70s, who'd had eye exams that identified refractive error causing blurred vision but had not had the problem corrected. They were randomly assigned to be given eyeglasses immediately or after a follow-up exam two months later. At the time of that exam, those who had been given glasses right away reported better vision overall as well as less trouble with such daily activities as reading the newspaper, using the phone and playing cards, compared with those who had not yet received glasses. Based on standardized scales, those with glasses also reported less worry and frustration, more social interaction and fewer symptoms of depression than the others.

WHO MAY BE AFFECTED? Older people, especially those living in nursing homes. Vision generally declines with age, but studies have shown that nursing home residents are 15 times as likely to have uncorrected vision problems as are older people living at home.

CAVEATS Whether the short-term boost from corrected vision would continue long-term was not determined. The results may not apply to people who are severely depressed.

FIND THIS STUDY November issue of Ophthalmology.

LEARN MORE ABOUT vision problems associated with aging at http://nihseniorhealth.gov and http://www.mayoclinic.com (click on "slide shows").

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