Even mild sight loss may lead to depression, loneliness and worse overall health, a major study has found.
Researchers from University College London say millions of adults with early stage cataracts and other vision problems are being overlooked by the NHS.
Their study of 112,300 men and women found that those with mild sight problems were 12 per cent more likely to say their health was poor.
Millions of adults with early stage cataracts and other vision problems are being overlooked by the NHS and are more likely to be treated for depression and other mental health problems
They also had a 14 per cent chance of being under the care of a psychiatrist for depression, anxiety or other mental health problems.
The authors say even mild vision impairment can affect people’s eating habits, activity levels, social life and lead to accidents in the home.
Professor Jugnoo Rahi looked at the records of adults aged 40 to 74, many of whom had cataracts or other sight problems including glaucoma or macular generation.
She said that even slight vision impairments – that didn’t affect driving – could lead to serious long term effects on peoples’ quality of life.
‘It could be that you start to change the lifestyle, be more sedentary, eat differently and it could also impact social structures.
Even mild vision impairment can affect people’s mental health as well as their eating habits, activity levels, social life and lead to accidents in the home, the report said
‘There is also a sense you feel less in control of your life.
‘This will be a big surprise for the NHS. We are not doing enough and they are not getting the resources they need.’
Professor Rahi, whose study is published in JAMA Ophthalmology, said basic eye tests should be incorporated into health MOTs to detect the first signs of sight loss.
‘In the care of older people, vision should be a priority.
‘It’s a mistake to think its ok to remove the cataracts in one eye, for example, and think that someone who had good vision in two eyes is going to function just as well.’