JUL 26, 2023
Comprehensive Ophthalmology, Pediatric Ophth/Strabismus
As with adults, adolescents who experience vision function problems may be at increased risk of mental health issues, particularly depression.
This cross-sectional study reviewed data from 3100 adolescents (aged 12–18 years) who were enrolled in the 2005–2008 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey cycles and who completed an eye exam and vision and health function questionnaires. These questionnaires focused on vision concerns, mental health status, and physical health status. The answers given were then compared with exam measurements of visual acuity and the presence of uncorrected or undercorrected refractive errors.
Twenty-four percent of the respondents reported vision concerns. Having vision concerns was more prevalent in girls, respondents with undercorrected refractive error, respondents with poor mental health, those from lower-income households, and those who were not covered under medical insurance.
This study used a large dataset from vision- and health-related questionnaires. Any positive answer to these questionnaires, despite overall frequency or quantitative amount, was taken as a positive (little, some, most, or all), and all answers were treated as dichotomous variables. This may overestimate the results. The questionnaires also only included undercorrected or uncorrected refractive error as possible sources of vision concerns, when there could be many other sources.
While almost 25% of the adolescents surveyed reported vision problems, vision screening programs tend to target younger children, especially those in the amblyogenic phase. However, programs in middle and high schools may be equally important, especially for young women and those who are uninsured and/or belong to a low-income household, and may help identify other potential relationships between vision concerns and mental health.
Financial Disclosures: Dr. Brenda Bohnsack discloses no financial relationships.