People With Visual Problems More Likely to Commit Suicide

by Rajashri on Jul 15 2008 4:16 PM

A new study says people with visual impairment are more likely to commit suicide as their disability exerts an indirect negative effect on their health.

Eye conditions that lead to visual loss often have poor health and psychological consequences with impaired daily activities, social isolation, mental impairment.

It also leads to increased dependency on others, along with increased motor vehicle crashes, falls and fractures,

Visually impaired people also experience depression and poor self-rated health.

"Increased mortality risks also have been noted in adults with visual impairment and disabling eye disease," said the researchers.

For the study, a team led by Dr Byron L. Lam, of Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, University of Miami School of Medicine, analysed the data from national health surveys of 137,479 participants conducted between 1986 and 1996.

During an average 11 years of follow-up, 200 suicide deaths were reported.

"After controlling for survey design, age, sex, race, marital status, number of non-ocular health conditions and self-rated health, the direct effect of visual impairment on death from suicide was elevated (increased by 50 percent) but not significant," wrote the authors.

"The indirect effect of visual impairment on suicide through poor self-rated health or number of non-ocular health conditions was considerable (5 percent and 12 percent, respectively).

"The combined indirect effects of reported visual impairment operating jointly through poorer self-rated health and a higher number of reported non-ocular conditions increased the risk of suicide significantly by 18 percent.

"In summary, we observed that reported visual impairment increased suicide risk, particularly indirectly via reported health status and health conditions," the authors conclude.

The report appears in July issue of Archives of Ophthalmology, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.