The psychological consequences of the pathologies affecting the eyes and the vision, in particular degenerative pathologies, are often neglected or fully ignored. However, approximately 30% of the individuals with degenerative pathologies such as age linked maculopathy, or pathologies inherited from one’s own parents such as retinitis pigmentosa or chronic pathologies such as the glaucoma, show anxious and depressive symptoms.
The patient can experience anxiety because he/she is not well informed about his/her illness, about what it is and what he/she must expect from it, or because of gaps within the communication between doctor-patient or understandably because of denial of the problem by the patient.
In pathologies in which the loss of vision affects the normal sensory setup of the individual (progressive loss of the central or peripheral vision), the patient is facing the complicate situation of having to re-adjust his way of looking at things, moving and living to the new visual condition. This is not easy at all, above all for an elderly person who, if not assisted and guided, falls into a vortex of feelings and negative emotions such as resignation, despair and apathy. In addition to the real psycho-physical difficulty of having to do this, the awareness that the patient will not be able to see as he/she was able to see once can generate a serious depression and the closing of the individual towards the performance of daily actions and life in general. This happens in a more incisive and prevailing manner in young people, who suddenly find themselves forced to face life in a different manner from that of their peers and who see many opportunities, phases, personal and work experiences being precluded to them. Therefore, it is advisable to avail oneself of professional figures expert on the psychological as well as ophthalmological fields, who through their knowledge and abilities are able to provide the tool and the strategies for coping with a very important problem such as that of the loss of vision and return to the patient the awareness that he/she must not interrupt his/her relationships with the external world, but that he/she can learn how to manage them in a different manner.
We are aware of this reality, and this is why, in our Rome Vision Clinic centre, it is possible to request psychological assistance in which professional psychologists, collaborating in synergy with the ophthalmologist, can help the patient to face and cope in the best possible manner with the symptoms deriving from a visual condition that appears to be no longer sufficient to enable him/her to maintain his/her individual relational autonomy.
Central protagonists of this course are also the family members of the patients who, guided by such professional figures, can give a concrete contribution to improve the daily life of their loved ones and, at the same time, their own. Taking care of the persons affected by these pathologies helps safeguarding the many resources that each individual, even though in an illness condition, can still express during his/her life for himself/herself and society in general.