Adolescents with poorer mental health may have increased chances of vision concerns. Photo: Bruce Dixon/Unsplash. 

Researchers recently conducted an analysis of survey results describing the prevalence of vision concerns among US adolescents and the association of time spent worrying about eyesight with physical and mental health. Their study, published in the American Journal of Ophthalmology, concluded that female, low-income and uninsured adolescents living in the United States are more likely to report worrying about their vision and often have uncorrected or undercorrected refractive errors.

The cross-sectional study included 3,100 participants from the 2005-2008 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (mean age: 15.5, 49% female). Vision concerns were identified by a survey question of time spent worrying about eyesight. Recent poor physical and mental health was defined as at least one day of poor health within the last month.

Vision concerns were expressed by 24% (n=865) of adolescents. Vision concerns were more prevalent among females (29% vs. 19%), low-income (30% vs. 23%) and uninsured (31% vs. 22%) adolescents. Participants worried about their eyesight were more likely to have undercorrected refractive error (OR: 2.07). Poor recent mental health (OR: 1.30), but not physical health (OR: 1.00), was associated with adolescent vision concerns.

“This study highlights the need for a greater understanding of the relationship between vision concerns and mental health in adolescents,” the study authors wrote in their paper. “The ability of improved access to refractive correction to reduce the amount of time adolescents spend worrying about their vision and the potential impact of such interventions on mental well-being, especially among children from low-income households, deserves further investigation.”

Teebagy S, Jastrzembski BG, Oke I. The association of vision concerns with the physical and mental well-being of adolescents in the United States. Am J Ophthalmol. June 8, 2023. [Epub ahead of print].