A new study, published in the March 8 edition of Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science, has concluded that low-vision patients who improve in their daily living activities through at-home training with an occupational therapist (OT) have less severe symptoms of depression than similar patients who did not receive such training.
Using outcomes from a recently completed clinical trial, the Low Vision Depression Prevention Trial in Age-Related Macular Degeneration (VITAL) study, 188 senior adults with low vision from age-related macular degeneration were evaluated. All patients reported borderline depressive symptoms, scoring greater than five on the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9). They were divided into an occupational therapy group and a supportive therapy group. The occupational therapy group met with an OT for six one-hour sessions in their homes. The supportive therapy group met with a social worker for six one-hour sessions of talk therapy, which emphasized personal expression about loss and disability. This group got attention and empathetic support, but not specific occupational therapy directed to improve their ability to function.
Four months after treatment, 26% of the supportive therapy patients reported that their depression symptoms worsened, while only 12% of the occupational therapy patients reported worsening symptoms. This is further science-based evidence that occupational therapy is effective in helping to maintain the quality of life of those affected by age-related macular degeneration, and, by extension, similar diseases of the retina leading to central vision loss.