Abnormal Binocular Vision Linked to Antidepressant Use, General Health, Age A new study has found a correlation between abnormal binocular vision (the way in which our eyes work as a team), antidepressant use, and our general health as we age.

About 20 percent of the general population has a binocular vision disorder, which affects depth perception. Up to 27 percent of adults in their 60s, and 38 percent over age 80, have a binocular vision or eye movement disorder.

This is the first study to measure binocular vision loss with age and show a connection with antidepressant use and general health. Conditions such as diabetes and thyroid disease are already associated with these problems, but this is the first study to link binocular vision disorders with overall general health.

Although other studies have discussed a possible link between certain antidepressant drugs and specific binocular vision disorders, this is the first study to actually verify a link between antidepressant use and binocular vision and eye movement disorders.

For the study, researchers looked at randomly selected records from 500 older patients over age 60 who received treatment at the school’s on-campus clinic.

“Thirty to 40 percent of the population is an exceptionally high rate of incidence for any disorder,” said Dr. Susan Leat, a professor at the School of Optometry and Vision Science at Waterloo.

“An association does not establish that one causes the other, but rather that they co-exist,” said Leat. “It is possible that the effects of poor vision means that people are more likely to take antidepressants or make less healthy lifestyle choices.”

Although the findings show that the rate of binocular vision disorders in older adults is higher than expected, the news isn’t all bad. Many binocular vision disorders can be helped with glasses, vision therapy, or in some cases surgery.

“Keeping your glasses up-to-date through regular eye examinations to avoid large prescription changes is one way to maintain good vision, decrease risk for falls, and maintain a good quality of life as you age,” said Leat.

Source:  University of Waterloo

Elderly man getting an eye exam photo by shutterstock.