Blindness, fear of sight loss, and suicide

Psychosomatics. 1999 Jul-Aug;40(4):339-44. doi: 10.1016/S0033-3182(99)71229-6.


Numerous studies have examined the emotional impact exerted by sight loss. Research has tended to focus on clinical-diagnostic rather than therapeutic-preventive aspects. Blindness and sight restoration have been reported to induce both temporary and longer term psychopathology, usually followed by psychosocial readjustment. However, in some cases, readjustment may not occur and suicide may result. Together with an extensive review of available literature, the authors present cases taken from their psychological autopsy study database. When compared with a hearing-impaired control group, impaired sight alone can acutely affect otherwise psychologically healthy individuals. Ophthalmologists need to be aware of this problem and to develop closer collaboration with mental health professionals. Serious consideration of this problem and definition of clear guidelines may prevent suicidal behaviour.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Blindness / psychology*
  • Deafness / psychology
  • Fear*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Care Team
  • Sick Role*
  • Suicide / psychology*
  • Suicide Prevention