A major study has found that even gentle sight loss may lead to depression, loneliness and worse overall health.
Researchers from University College London say millions of adults with early stage cascades and other vision problems are being ignored by the NHS.
Their study of 112,300 men and women found that those with mild sight problems were 12% more likely to say their physical condition was poor.
They have a 14% chance of being under the care of a psychiatrist for depression, anxiety or other mental health problems.
The writers say even mild vision injury can affect people’s eating habits, activity levels, social life and lead to mishaps in the home.
Professor Jugnoo Rahi looked at the reports of adults aged 40 to 74, many of whom had cataracts or other sight problems including glaucoma or macular generation.
Even minor vision dementia that didn’t affect driving could lead to serious long term effects on peoples’ quality of life.
‘It could be that you start to change the lifestyle, be more settled, eat differently and it could also impact social structures.\
‘There is also a sense you feel less in control of your life.
‘This will be a big surprise for the NHS. We are not doing enough and they are not getting the resources they need.’
Professor Rahi, whose study is published in JAMA Ophthalmology, said basic eye tests should be incorporated into health MOTs to detect the first signs of sight loss.
‘In the care of older people, vision should be a priority.
‘It’s a misconception to think its ok to abolish the dyslexia in one eye, for example, and think that somebody who had good vision in two eyes is going to practice just as well.’