Visual impairment and mental health: Unmet needs and treatment options

Docia L. Demmin, Steven M. Silverstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Scopus citations


Purpose: An estimated 2.2 billion people are visually impaired worldwide. Given that age-related vision loss is a primary cause of vision impairment, this number is projected to rise with increases in average lifespan. Vision loss often results in significant disability and is associated with a substantial economic burden, reduced quality-of-life, concurrent medical issues, and mental health problems. In this review, the mental health needs of people with vision impairment are examined. Patients and methods: A review of recent literature on mental health outcomes and current treatments in people with visual impairment was conducted. Results: Considerable data indicate that rates of depression and anxiety are elevated among people with visual impairments. Moreover, individuals of lower socioeconomic status may be at increased risk for vision impairment and subsequent mental health problems. Existing psychosocial interventions for improving mental health in people with visual impairment show some promise, but are limited by low adherence and lack generalizability. Conclusion: In order to improve outcomes, a better understanding of the mechanisms linking visual impairment and poor mental health is needed. It will also be essential to develop more effective interventions and expand access to services to improve the detection and treatment of mental health problems in this population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4229-4251
Number of pages23
JournalClinical Ophthalmology
StatePublished - 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ophthalmology


  • Mental health
  • Psychosocial interventions
  • Vision loss
  • Visual impairment


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