Weakening sight indirectly triggers suicide: study

July 15th, 2008 - 2:38 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, July 15 (IANS) Weakening eyesight could be fraught with unknown risks, even indirectly triggering suicides, according to an exhaustive new review. Failing eyesight often results in psychosocial and health consequences, social isolation, increased dependency, increased vehicle crashes, falls and fractures, depression and poor self-rated health.

“Increased mortality risks also have been noted in adults with visual impairment and disabling eye disease,” said Byron L. Lam of the University of Miami School of Medicine who reviewed data from US National Health Surveys of 137,479 visually impaired participants conducted between 1986 and 1996.

Participants reported demographic information along with details about visual impairment and other health conditions. Researchers then verified deaths of participants until 2002 through the National Death Index.

During an average 11-year follow-up, 200 suicide deaths were identified.

“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, but not significant,” according to Lam.

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,” Lam concluded.

“Our results suggest improved treatments of visual impairment and factors causing poor health could potentially reduce suicide risk.”

These findings have been published in the current issue of the journal Archives of Ophthalmology.

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