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Can stress make you go blind?

According to study lead Dr Bradley Dougherty, they are hoping to then use their findings to understand how these factors impact the visual outcomes of treatment for patients with wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD).“Stress and depression have been shown to increase inflammation in the body and wet AMD is an inflammatory disease, so there’s reason to believe that they may lead to worse outcomes in wet AMD,” he said, adding: “In the end, we hope to better understand how general well-being influences disease outcomes.”{{quote-A:R-W:480-I:2-Q: Stress and depression have been shown to increase inflammation in the body and wet AMD is an inflammatory disease, -WHO:Dr Bradley Dougherty, Assistant Professor of Optometry at The Ohio State University}}It is the first study to use the Perceived Stress Scale as a tool to assess wet AMD, since it was found effective in predicting objective biological markers of stress. Although there were previous studies linking AMD with elevated stress levels, depression and anxiety, there are no significant studies on how stress affects the severity levels of AMD.To date, the study has involved 137 AMD patients with an average age of 82.Using a technique called Rasch analysis, patients completed a 10 question PSS on a day when they received anti-VEGF injections.Overall the PSS score was not significantly related to the acuity level of the patients, however, future studies using repeated assessments with the PSS and measurent of inflammatory markers might provide evidence on how perceived stress levels affect the risk of AMD progression and worsening vision loss.“A psychometrically sound, easy-to-administer questionnaire such as the PSS is important for use with patients with AMD, given the evidence for increased psychological symptoms in the population,” Dougherty said.The researchers agree that although PSS was designed for those with higher stress levels compared to those who participated in the study and better options may be explored, they added that the theory is sound and the findings consistent.

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