Coping with Depression and Keratoconus

Progressive vision loss can interfere with career goals, and thereby lead to depression. Six percent of adults between the ages of 25-29 experience at least two symptoms of depression within any given 30 day period. Meanwhile, findings published in JAMA Ophthalmology revealed that adults suffering from depression were less likely to seek treatment for worsening eyesight. Furthermore, a higher depression risk exists in people with keratoconus as compared to those without keratoconus (per an article in 2018 in the Journal of Ophthalmology).

At the Precision Keratoconus Center, we understand that living with keratoconus can increase feelings of depression – and we want to help you to preserve your eyesight through appropriate keratoconus treatment.

Described below are some additional age-related statistics pertaining to vision loss and depression, common antidepressant medications, and three potential interactions between antidepressant medications and keratoconus.

Older Adults – Statistics on Keratoconus and Depression

The American Foundation for the Blind notes that older adults with impaired vision are twice as likely to be depressed as older adults without visual impairment. Creating even more obstacles to independence than in younger adults, limited vision after 60 years of age can have a major impact on senior-aged adults’ overall quality-of-life. As noted by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), senior-aged adults with depression are more likely to develop chronic health disorders, and consequently have a shortened life expectancy.

People with keratoconus who are senior-aged are also less likely to adhere to keratoconus treatment than younger adults (although a given recommended treatment could potentially improve their eyesight).

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Children and Adolescents – Statistics on Keratoconus and Depression

Progression of vision loss occurs in 88 percent of children and adolescents diagnosed with keratoconus. Since around 20 percent of all teenagers experience some level of depression, enabling teenagers with keratoconus to preserve their budding independence through keratoconus treatment is a good idea. This can also promote better functioning of that teenager in the school environment (in that improved eyesight can increase a teenager’s interest in reading).

Treatments for Depression

Engaging in physical exercise is often recommended to relieve the symptoms of depression. The following are three reasons that physical exercise may potentially relieve feelings of depression (as noted by the Mayo Clinic):

  • Physical exercise releases endorphins in the brain (that function to elevate mood).
  • Physical exercise can distract from everyday worries to instead place a focus on the current activity.
  • Physical exercise can enable increased socialization (if performed in a fitness center or other group setting).

The most commonly-prescribed antidepressant medications are called Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs). According to a Harvard Medical School online newsletter, SSRIs are among the most prescribed medications across the globe. As listed in this newsletter, six SSRI medications are as follows:

  1. Fluoxetine;
  2. Sertraline;
  3. Paroxetine;
  4.  Fluvoxamine;
  5. Citalopram;
  6. Escitalopram

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Antidepressant Medications and Keratoconus

Three potential side effects of SSRI antidepressant medications that can impact keratoconus-afflicted people are blurry vision, excessive tearing in the eyes, and the development of “dry eyes” (per an opinion article in 2018 in EyeWorld). In people with bipolar disorder (causing depressive symptoms) and prescribed Lithium, this article also notes that “dry eyes” and difficulty coordinating eye movements are two potential side effects of Lithium.

People with keratoconus (and other eye disorders such as glaucoma) who are depressed may benefit from antidepressant medications, but the benefits and risks need to be weighed in considering whether this is the best holistic approach.

At the Precision Keratoconus Center, we consider your other health issues in working with you to develop a keratoconus treatment plan to meet your needs.

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