January is National Eye Care Month. Started by optometrists and ophthalmologists in order to promote healthy vision, National Eye Care Month is particularly important to women experiencing mental health issues.
A 2006 study reported that 61 percent of psychiatric patients experience impaired visual acuity. It revealed that patients commonly experience blurred vision, headaches and periorbital pain. However, many mental health patients neglect to seek medical help.
Many women suffering from anxiety, depression or other mental health issues isolate themselves and neglect to take care of their lives relating to the outside world: medical appointments go ignored, bills go unpaid, friends go unnoticed. This, in turn, adds physical discomfort and medical danger to the list of risks resulting from the mental illness, further endangering a woman’s mental health.
In addition to being reluctant to seek medical care, many women with mental health issues have coping habits that are detrimental to healthy vision. Poor nutrition, smoking, alcohol consumption and lack of exercise can all lead to vision problems.
Whether because coping behaviors have endangered their eye health or because they have neglected to take care of an existing problem, women with mental health issues may have eye problems that require medical care.
When women feel physically well, they are better able to focus on mental wellness. Medical health is an essential part of the recovery process from mental illness, and should be included in every recovery plan. A comprehensive medical plan includes yearly eye exams and removes potential physical threats to mental recovery, creating the foundation for sustained mental wellness.