More than 2 billion people are thought to be living with some form of vision impairment worldwide. Yet relatively little is known about the wider impacts of vision loss on individual health and well-being, particularly in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). This study estimated the associations between all-cause vision impairment and self-reported symptoms of anxiety and depression among older adults in Kogi State, Nigeria.
Individual eyes were examined according to the standard Rapid Assessment of Avoidable Blindness methodology, and anxiety and depression were assessed using the Washington Group Short Set on Functioning–Enhanced. The associations were estimated using multivariable logistic regression models, adding two- and three-way interaction terms to test whether these differed for gender subgroups and with age.
Overall, symptoms of either anxiety or depression, or both, were worse among people with severe visual impairment or blindness compared with those with no impairment (OR=2.72, 95% CI 1.86 to 3.99). Higher levels of anxiety and/or depression were observed among men with severe visual impairment and blindness compared with women, and this gender gap appeared to widen as people got older.
These findings suggest a substantial mental health burden among people with vision impairment in LMICs, particularly older men, underscoring the importance of targeted policies and programmes addressing the preventable causes of vision impairment and blindness.