Glaucoma New Zealand (GNZ) is raising awareness of glaucoma’s impact on mental health in the lead up to Mental Health Awareness Week, from 26 September to 2 October.
According to GNZ, an estimated 50,000 Kiwis are unknowingly living with glaucoma and 25-30% of those with glaucoma experience mental illness. Researching the impact of glaucoma on mental health, University of Melbourne ophthalmologist Associate Professor Simon Skalicky found newly diagnosed patients often fear being unable to work, loss of independence, future blindness, inability to drive, and implications for their family.
“It’s very important that glaucoma patients and their wider networks have access to all the information they need, feel supported, and join networks where they can connect with others and feel less isolated – that’s where Glaucoma New Zealand plays such a vital role,” said A/Prof Skalicky.
GNZ chairwoman Professor Helen Danesh-Meyer said the organisation wants to improve Kiwis’ understanding of glaucoma and the treatment options available to help to reduce the fear and loneliness that can accompany a glaucoma diagnosis. “We connect Kiwis living with glaucoma with a community, social services and information to help them to maintain their quality of life and provide psychological support, information and encouragement,” she said.
Prof Danesh-Meyer and A/Prof Skalicky discuss the personal impact of receiving a glaucoma diagnosis in this video. Practitioners can direct patients who want to learn about the support GNZ offers to glaucoma.org.nz, freephone 0800 452 826 or email email@example.com.
See our September 2022 story for more on the mental impacts of glaucoma