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How Behavior Activation for AMD Works

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Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and depression are frequent companions. AMD -- a disorder that can lead to progressive central vision loss -- is the leading cause of vision loss in older adults. And depression is a leading cause of disability. Up to 30 percent of people with AMD in both eyes, called bilateral AMD, also become depressed as low vision interferes with activities they once found enjoyable.

Researchers recently tested a new treatment model for AMD and depression, comparing a therapy called behavior activation with standard low-vision rehabilitation. The study, in the November 2014 issue of Ophthalmology, aimed to prevent depressive disorders in people with AMD who showed early signs of depression.

How behavior activation helps. The most common treatment for low vision resulting from AMD is low-vision rehabilitation. During this therapy, the patient's functional vision is assessed, and he or she is instructed on using assistive devices, such as handheld magnifiers or telescopic glasses for TV viewing. This type of treatment doesn't address the condition's psychological and emotional impacts, though.

In contrast, behavior activation combines low-vision treatment with psychological therapy to promote self-sufficiency and social connections to ease daily tasks, improve well-being and counter social withdrawal.

In the study, occupational therapists worked with nearly 200 people with bilateral AMD (average age, 84) who experienced mild depression, which was at risk of progressing to clinical depression. Patients focused on increasing social activities and reducing vision-related difficulties to improve their function and accomplish tailored personal goals. Among the practical approaches for decreasing difficulties were increasing magnification, improving lighting, using high-contrast tape to highlight objects and simplifying routines.

After four months, the researchers found that using this multidisciplinary intervention halved the incidence of depressive disorders compared with treatment involving talking with a support therapist about their vision loss and disability.

Posted in Vision on November 3, 2015

Medical Disclaimer: This information is not intended to substitute for the advice of a physician. Click here for additional information: Health After 50 Disclaimer

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