Undiagnosed mental illness in wet AMD patients

New research suggests reassuring patients about the effectiveness of anti-VEGF injections could help ease anxiety


A new study has revealed high levels of undiagnosed depression and anxiety among patients undergoing treatment for wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

The research was conducted at Manchester Royal Eye Hospital and published in the American Journal of OphthalmologyIt involved 300 patients receiving anti-VEGF treatment for wet AMD completing standardised questionnaires to quantify clinically significant levels of anxiety and depression.

Researchers found that 17% of patients showed clinically significant levels of anxiety and 12% had clinical levels of depression. The findings also revealed that 56% of patients reported anxiety related to anti-VEGF treatment.

The main sources of anxiety were fear of going blind from the injections and concerns about treatment effectiveness, rather than trepidation around pain.

Dr Tariq Aslam, a consultant ophthalmologist and senior lecturer in ophthalmology, told OT it was understandable that patients would be anxious about having treatment for wet AMD.

“However, we found that many of their fears and anxieties are potentially avoidable, which could have significant implications for patient wellbeing,” Dr Aslam emphasised.

Dr Aslam also explained that levels of anxiety and depression in the patient group were higher than in the general population, and were not being appropriately addressed or treated.

The study was relevant to all professionals involved in the care of patients undergoing anti-VEGF injections for wet AMD, he elaborated.

It highlighted the importance of good communication and being vigilant to deeper psychological problems among patients, Dr Alsam concluded.