She advises referring such patients to specialists with strategies for adapting to vision loss.

She advises referring such patients to specialists with strategies for adapting to vision loss.Julia Rosenthal, an ophthalmologist in Michigan, wrote a piece for NPR that enumerates a sometimes neglected aspect in the care of low-vision patients. The article explains how patients with conditions such as age-related macular degeneration can struggle to cope with losing their independence, citing a statistic which says that 22 percent of people who come to low-vision clinics have mild to moderate depression.

Rosenthal spoke with Dr. Judith Goldstein, an optometrist at the Johns Hopkins Wilmer Eye Institute, who’s also a low-vision specialist with a few different strategies for helping patients adapt to their vision loss and prevent depression. “In [Goldstein’s] clinic, she helps to identify things the patient has trouble doing, break that down into tasks and then adjust each task, tailoring it to the patient.”

But as one psychiatrist quoted in the article says, it can be difficult for time-strapped eye doctors who aren’t knowledgeable about mental health care to help patients with depression. Rosenthal concludes by saying it’s a good idea to refer patients to low-vision specialists such as Goldstein. “Oftentimes, eye doctors are so focused on treatment and what to do about vision loss that we forget to take that step,” she writes.

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