If the world were a blur and you had no access to eyeglasses, you wouldn’t be able to read, television viewing would be largely irrelevant, and you might not even recognize the faces of your friends and family.
Do you think you might become depressed and withdrawn?
The unsurprising results of a recent study say you certainly would.
Researchers at the University of Alabama recruited more than 140 subjects over the age of 55 who were living in nursing homes. Each subject had uncorrected refractive error (that is, their eyes were unable to focus properly, causing them to be either nearsighted or farsighted) and they didn’t own the necessary eyeglasses to correct the problem.
The UA team gave half the subjects eyeglasses. Two months later the other group also received eyeglasses, but before they did, researchers conducted quality-of-life interviews. Responses showed that subjects in the eyeglass group scored higher in general vision, reading, participation in activities, hobbies, and social interaction, and were less likely to experience depression or psychological distress compared to the non-eyeglass group.
Not too surprising. But what is somewhat surprising is this little detail: Impaired eyesight is significantly more common among those in assisted living facilities, but people of a similar age who don’t live in such facilities are more likely to own a pair of glasses.
For more than 70 years, Lions Club International has collected eyeglasses for distribution to people with uncorrected refractive error who have little or no access to proper eyewear. You can find information about donating glasses at lionsclub.org.
“Effect of Refractive Error Correction on Health-Related Quality of Life and Depression in Older Nursing Home Residents” Archives of Ophthalmology, Vol. 125, No. 11, November 2007, archopht.ama-assn.org