Self-help group for addressing depression and anxiety in the visually impaired. A Pilot Study

Emanuela Rellini, Valeria Silvestri, Margherita Guidobaldi, Simona Turco, Filippo Maria Amore, Stefania Fortini


Background: This work describes a vision rehabilitation approach integrated with a self-help group, for psychological support of visually impaired people. The effectiveness and benefits of attending self- help group was analyzed in accordance to anxiety, depression symptoms and visual functions.

Methods: The study, an observational perspective non randomized, was done on 31 visually impaired subjects, 16 females and 15 males, with a mean age of 63.7. Visual acuity, reading speed, anxiety and depression levels were valued before and after self-help group.

Results: After the attending period of self-help group, a decrease to 0.74 LogMAR (± 0.3) and 1.08 LogMAR (± 0.3) for the best corrected visual acuity was registered for the best and the worst eye respectively (p>0.05). There were significant improvements in anxiety (p<0.01) and depression levels (p<0.01). The average reading rate increased to 61.7 (± 24.4) wpm (p<0.01), representing 23% improvement. We found that anxiety was significantly determinant on the reading speed (p=0.02).

Conclusion: The results of this preliminary study suggest that this innovative approach can enhance visual functions with an effect on self-efficacy, it can offer support to the patients to cope with the onset of depression and anxiety and it can be a tool to promote psychological and social welfare.


Anxiety; Depression; Low vision; Self-Help group; Rehabilitation.

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