Ageing is a process where over time an individual an experience a decline in performance, productivity and health. Problems of senior citizen usually appear after the age of 60 years and above. At this age, elder citizens face medical, economic, social and psychological problems. A common set of health issues in the elderly population are degenerative diseases like dementia, Alzheimer's, osteoarthritis, Parkinson's disease and eye diseases like age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
AMD is one of the important causes of severe visual loss in the elderly population and constitutes 8.7 per cent of blindness in the world. AMD is a disease where abnormal blood vessels grow in the macula (centre part of the retina) causing damage to the central vision. It is tough for individuals to cope with it because it involves poor eyesight. Recent projections estimate that worldwide the number of individuals with AMD will reach 288 million in 2040.AMD symptoms include a small, but growing, blind spot in the centre of vision blurred or fuzzy vision, straight lines that appear wavy or crooked, decreased contrast or colour sensitivity and difficulty seeing at a distance
It is said that the most common deleterious consequence of the vision impairment caused by AMD is increased functional disability. According to a report, patients who report functional vision problems (eg, difficulty navigating steps or seeing objects in peripheral vision) are 90 per cent more likely to be depressed than patients who do not report such problems. Among older adults with vision loss, those with AMD are specifically at risk for depression compared to those with other eye diseases. Depression has been found in approximately one-third of visually impaired AMD patients which is approximately twice as high as the lifetime prevalence rates in the normally sighted general older population
However, early diagnosis and timely treatment of AMD can help prevent depression and can be cost-effective as it will not lead to multiple depression sessions and treatment, which will also eventually, help to prevent vision loss and quality of life of the patients. Since, ageing is already associated with a lot of economic, social and psychological issues and due to vision loss, persons physical activity is reduced and dependency on other family members rise. Hence, it is utmost important to have regular check-ups within every 6 months with the ophthalmologist once diagnosed AMD and seek appropriate treatment for such patients.
Says, Dr Rajvardhan Azad, Senior Consultant Vitreoretinal Surgeon, Former Chief, Dr R P Centre, AIIMS New Delhi, President of ALL India Collegium of Ophthalmology, President Indian ROP Society, Secretary SAARC Academy of Ophthalmology “The common symptoms of retinal disorders like AMD include blurred or distorted vision, dark spots in central vision or straight lines appearing wavy. Retinal diseases are often underdiagnosed as the symptoms as it is painless and the other eye compensates for the poor eye. Only when the profound loss of eyesight or the patient closes one eye it gets noticed. Therefore, it is imperative to understand the symptoms and seek expert advice as early diagnosis can help prevent loss of vision.”
Below are positive approaches for AMD patients to deal with depressions:
1. Build a support system with your loved ones
2. Reduce stress
3. Good counselling to Improve your sleep and eating hygiene
4. Engage yourself in some extracurricular activities or hobbies.
5. Learn to do physical activities on your own
Moreover, in AMD a senior citizen needs love, care and attention from their family members. Timely making them realize that they are not interdependent on their family members or caretaker is necessary, which will make them do physical activities on their own and that will lead them to overcome their fear and depression. The early detection of AMD increases the possibility of preventing the vision loss and it will prove to be more effective and productive.