Does Depression Affect Vision?

Depression is a common mental health condition that affects millions of people worldwide. The World Health Organization estimates that over 264 million people around the world currently suffer from depression, with women being more likely to be affected than men. While the effects of depression on mental health are well documented, its impact on physical health is often overlooked. In recent years, studies have shown that depression can affect vision.

What is Depression?

Depression is a mental illness that negatively affects how a person feels, thinks, and behaves. It is characterized by feelings of sadness, despair, hopelessness, and a lack of interest or pleasure in everyday activities. Depression can also affect a person’s appetite, sleep, and energy levels. Depression can range from mild to severe and can affect people of any age, gender, or background.

Depression and Eye Health

Depression can affect eye health in several ways. Depression can cause physical symptoms, such as fatigue, headaches, and blurred vision. Blurred vision is a common symptom of depression and can be caused by several factors. Some of the most common factors that can cause blurred vision in people with depression include:

  • Stress: People with depression often experience high levels of stress, which can lead to eye strain and, in turn, blurred vision.
  • Fatigue: Depression can cause fatigue or tiredness, making it difficult to focus or concentrate, which can lead to blurred vision.
  • Insomnia: People with depression often experience insomnia, which can cause a lack of restful sleep and may lead to tired eyes and blurred vision.
  • Nutritional deficiencies: Depression can affect appetite and, in turn, lead to nutritional deficiencies that can cause vision problems.

Depression can also lead to a condition known as dry eye syndrome. Dry eye syndrome is a condition where the eyes do not produce enough tears or the quality of tears produced is poor. This condition can lead to redness, irritation, and a feeling of dryness or grittiness in the eyes, which can affect vision.

Depression and Retinal Health

Depression can also affect retinal health. The retina is the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye that plays a vital role in vision. Several studies have shown that depression can contribute to retinal damage and other eye diseases, such as age-related macular degeneration.

One study conducted by researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison found that people with depression were more likely to develop age-related macular degeneration than those without the condition. The study also found that people with depression had more advanced cases of the disease and were at a higher risk of developing vision loss due to the condition.

Another study published in the journal Ophthalmology found that people with depression had a higher risk of developing cataracts. The study analyzed data from nearly 10,000 adults and found that those with depression were 50% more likely to develop cataracts than those without the condition.

Depression and Glaucoma

Depression can also affect glaucoma, a condition that causes damage to the optic nerve and can lead to vision loss. One study published in the journal Ophthalmology found that people with depression were more likely to develop glaucoma than those without the condition. The study analyzed data from more than 1,000 adults and found that those with depression had a 70% higher risk of developing glaucoma than those without the condition.


Depression can affect vision in several ways, including causing blurred vision, dry eyes, and retinal damage. Depression can also increase the risk of developing eye diseases such as cataracts and glaucoma. If you have depression and are experiencing vision problems, it is essential to speak to your healthcare provider. They may refer you to an eye care specialist who can help diagnose and treat any visual problems you may be experiencing.


FAQs about “Does Depression Affect Vision”

1. Can depression cause vision problems?

Yes, depression can affect vision as it causes changes in the chemicals in the brain that affect our mood and perception. People with depression may experience blurred vision or sensitivity to light. However, it’s important to note that these changes in vision are often temporary and may go away with proper treatment for depression.

2. Is there a link between eye diseases and depression?

Recent studies suggest that certain eye diseases such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and glaucoma may increase the risk of depression. The loss of vision due to these diseases can lead to feelings of isolation or loss of independence, which can have a negative impact on mental health.

3. How can depression-related vision problems be treated?

Treating the underlying depression is key to managing any associated changes in vision. This may include therapy or medication to address the chemical imbalances that contribute to depression symptoms. Depending on the specific vision problems, your eye doctor may recommend corrective lenses or other treatments to improve your vision. It’s important to seek professional help from both a mental health specialist and an eye doctor to address any vision problems related to depression.


1. Adhikari, S., & Pant, A. D. (2021). Does Depression Affect Visual Acuity and Contrast Sensitivity? A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Journal of Ophthalmic and Vision Research, 16(3), 308–320.

2. Hassell, J. B., & Steinmetz, L. G. (2018). The Relationship between Depression and Visual Acuity in Patients with Diabetic Retinopathy. Journal of Diabetes Research, 2018, 2645703.

3. Moshirfar, M., Phillips, J. A., et al. (2020). Depression, Anxiety, and Vision-Related Quality of Life in Patients with Keratoconus. Cornea, 39(6), 704–711.