It is not unusual to feel some element of anxiety when we are faced with giving a patient a diagnosis of AMD. Have you ever thought of the other side of the coin? Between 10 and 30% of AMD, patients are affected by anxiety, often due to their poor vision.1 Not only do AMD patients suffer more frequently from anxiety than age-matched controls, but they are also at higher risk for depression, with approximately 40% of AMD patients affected by depression.2 Female patients with AMD who live alone and have more co-morbidities are at particularly high risk of depressive symptoms.3 It has been reported that AMD patients are more likely than age-matched controls to be pessimistic about their future.
We always consider referral of our wet AMD patients to a retina specialist, but how often do we even broach the topic of mental health? Do we ask specifically about anxiety or depression (both of which are more common in elderly populations in general) and make referrals to mental health professionals as indicated? Maybe this should become a part of our routine patient education and management strategies.