In-home occupational therapy curbs depression in visually impaired patients
The new study, described March 8, in Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science, used measures obtained from the previous Low Vision Depression Prevention Trial in Age-Related Macular Degeneration (VITAL) study to conclude that low-vision patients who improve in their day-to-day functions, such as cooking, reading mail or using a computer, through at-home training with an occupational therapist have less severe symptoms of depression than similar patients who did not train with an occupational therapist.
“Our goal for this study was to see if occupational therapy was a better investment than supportive therapy in preventing depression in low-vision patients,” says Ashley Deemer, O.D., instructor of ophthalmology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
The study was based on information originally gathered for the VITAL study at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia and included data on 188 patients with age-related macular degeneration. The patients’ average age was 84, and 70.2 percent of the patients were women. The patients had an average visual acuity of 20/96, meaning that the average person in this study could see an object 20 feet away, while someone with normal vision could see the same object at 96 feet. All patients also reported borderline depressive symptoms, scoring greater than five on the Patient Health Questionnaire-9, a clinical survey used to estimate depression risk. In this survey, a score of zero is an indication that the patient has no depression or is at a low risk, and a score of 20 or higher marks a patient as at risk for severe depression.
After enrollment in the study, all patients visited a low vision rehabilitation optometrist and filled out a questionnaire designed to assess the importance and difficulty of daily activities, such as cooking, driving, pleasure reading and using a computer.
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Source: Medical Xpress