Topic: Violence and abuse

Visual impairment and depression: Age-specific prevalence, associations with vision loss, and relation to life satisfaction

Brunes, A., & Heir, T. (2020). Visual impairment and depression: Age-specific prevalence, associations with vision loss, and relation to life satisfaction. World Journal of Psychiatry (WJP), 10(6), 139-149. doi:10.5498/wjp.v10.i6.139


To estimate depression prevalence and its association with VI-related characteristics and life satisfaction in adults with VI.


A telephone-based cross-sectional survey was conducted between January and May 2017 in an age-stratified sample of adults who were members of the Norwegian Association of the Blind and Partially Sighted. Participants were asked questions about their sociodemographic characteristics, VI characteristics, and life satisfaction. Depression was measured with the Patient Health Questionnaire. The diagnostic scoring algorithm was used to calculate the point prevalence of depression (i.e., major depression and other depressive disorders) across categories of gender and age (years: 18-35, 36-50, 51-65, ? 66). The associations were estimated using regression models.


Overall, 736 adults participated in the study (response rate: 61%). The prevalence estimates of depression varied across different age groups, ranging from 11.1%-22.8% in women and 9.4%-16.5% in men, with the highest rates for the two youngest age groups. Results from the multivariable models including sociodemographic and VI-related variables showed that losing vision late in life [Prevalence ratio (PR), 1.76, 95%CI: 1.11, 2.79] and having other impairments (PR: 1.88, 95%CI: 1.32, 2.67) were associated with higher rates of depression, whereas older age was associated with lower rates (PR: 0.83, 95%CI: 0.74, 0.93). Additionally, participants who were depressed had lower life satisfaction than those who were not depressed (adjusted ?: -2.36, 95%CI: -2.75, -1.98).


Our findings suggest that depression in adults with VI, and especially among young and middle-aged adults, warrants greater attention by user organisations, clinicians, and healthcare authorities.

Keywords: BlindnessDepressionLife satisfactionMajor depressionVision lossVisual impairment

Core tip: Depression in people with visual impairment (VI) goes often unrecognized and untreated, yet knowledge about its occurrence can help to inform the design of mental health services targeting the specific population. The study’s findings of a high rate of depressive disorders in adults with VI, particularly among young and middle-aged adults, should in part be interpreted in the light of the extensive stigma, discrimination, isolation, and loneliness that they experience. For depressed adults with VI, the consequences may be severe in terms of a lower quality of life.

The Researchers