Help for Patients with Macular Degeneration
According to new research, patients who suffer from age-related macular degeneration, and depression associated with their disease, can benefit from a six-week self-management program that helps to enhance their quality of life.
Age-related macular degeneration is an incurable disease that affects one out of every five individuals over age 65, and it is the most common cause of vision loss for this age group. The disease is caused by the deterioration of cells and blood vessel leakage around the retina, the area responsible for central vision. Most patients with age-related macular degeneration lose their central vision while maintaining peripheral vision. However, there are other drawbacks. Stuart I. Brown, M.D., director of Shiley Eye Center and chair of ophthalmology at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, says, “Many people with macular degeneration experience not only the disability of vision loss due to this incurable disease, they also become anxious and depressed, which contributes to their inability to carry out life activities.”
Dr. Brown and fellow researchers evaluated 231 individuals with age-related macular degeneration and depression. The participants took part in a six-week group program that provided support and helped them improve their problem-solving skills. The participants were divided into three groups: One group went through the six-week, two-hour group sessions of the self-management program; another group were given tapes on health lectures; and the rest received no information or guidance.
Researchers found participants who went through the self-management program had an enhanced quality of life over those who did not go through the self-management program. Depressed individuals who also went through the program improved in function and mood. Dr. Brown says: “With this program, we inform them, challenge them, and teach them how to manage their lives and deal with their vision loss. The amount of improvement was significant. At the end of the process they realize their capabilities and were much more confidant and able to cope.”
SOURCE: Archives of Ophthalmology, 2002;120:1477-1483