Our vision is a precious ability, something we want to remain perfect (or at least near enough) as long as possible.
None of us want to even consider a time when our vision will become impaired.
Seeing the sun in the sky, a bluebird in flight, or the blossom of a spring flower is a privilege we all cherish.
What will happen if we begin losing our eyesight even just a little?
Many of our senior loved ones face this fear every day, as many are slowly (or quickly) losing their sight as they age.
Family caregivers may not even realize the extent to which their senior’s vision is impaired.
How will we know unless they tell us?
Vision Loss as We Age
On a recent trip to the eye doctor, I had a moment of pause as he told me I had a problem with my eyes.
“Aging,” he says, has led to changes in my eyes.
The general loss of my vision for close-up tasks, such as reading and seeing the dashboard when I drive, is to be expected as I am getting older (and aren’t we all?).
Bifocals are the answer — yippee!
Aging often leads to cataracts and I need to be prepared for the eventuality of having cataract surgery and lens implants.
But I know I am not alone in hearing this particular information from the eye doctor.
Many of our senior loved ones have heard it and perhaps even family caregivers too.
Vision Loss Facts
Blindness affects over one million people older than 40 years and visual impairment affects 3.4 million more!
Family caregivers should be aware of the impact of changes in their senior loved one’s vision and be ready to get them the treatment they require.
There are some medical problems that are not a normal part of anyone’s aging process that the eye doctor can uncover during an exam, such as diabetes. The doctor can look into the recesses of your senior’s eyeball to see any changes in the blood vessels signaling retinopathy.
Another potential eye problem that is not specifically age-related is glaucoma. This can be detected when there has been damage to the optic nerve, possibly associated with changes in the eye’s normal pressure, and can lead to blindness.
Another problem with vision occurring as our seniors get older is age-related macular degeneration. A hallmark of this disease is the blurring or darkening of vision in the center of our visual field.
This loss of vision can lead to our seniors’ loss of function and the ability to complete activities of daily living, which often leads to the loss of independence.
As the population ages, the number of people with age-related eye diseases causing a wide range of vision impairments, including blindness, will increase by an estimated threefold.
Family Caregivers Can Help Protect Seniors’ Vision
If you suspect a problem with your senior’s eyes, the earlier you get them tested and treated the better the outcome.
- Have a dilated eye exam every year, especially for those at risk for intraocular pressure changes.
- Visit the eye doctor if your senior has trouble seeing things close up, such as reading, buttoning clothes, sewing or picking out matching clothes; if the lights seem to be getting dimmer even when they are on; or, if they are having trouble reading street signs.
- Have your senior wear their eyeglasses as prescribed and have the prescription lenses updated at least every two to three years.
- It often makes sense to have an extra pair of glasses in case of damage or loss so that they will be able to continue to function independently.
Poor vision, especially as a part of aging, can impact your senior’s ability to age in place and live independently.
Seniors may be more prone to falling and having accidents resulting in injury as their vision fails, not to mention the impact on their ability to drive and thus their independence.
It is very important that family caregivers do all they can to prevent and treat seniors’ vision as they age and help them get the treatment they need.
I got my new spectacles – how about you and your senior loved one?