Helping seniors with vision problems

Vision loss can greatly affect the participation levels and safety of seniors experiencing difficulties with their vision due to age-related conditions such as diabetic retinopathy, cataracts or macular degeneration. As people lose vision they often isolate themselves and do not believe that they can still maintain an active, independent lifestyle.   Also, different eye conditions affect the ability to see and function in varying ways. For example, macular degeneration affects central vision and the ability to read, see faces, and drive. Glaucoma, on the other hand, affects side vision and the ability to detect objects outside the field of vision.

The second leading cause of irreversible blindness in the USA is glaucoma. The type we refer to here is Primary Open Angle Glaucoma. It is characterized by an increase in intraocular (eye) pressure, atrophy of the optic nerve and loss of peripheral vision. With these conditions present, vision is ultimately lost.

Risk Factors Include:

high intraocular pressure, aging, family history and race. Blacks have a 3-4 time higher risk. In addition, diabetes, hypertension, eye injury or surgery, history of steroid uses, migraine headaches with peripheral vasospasm are all possible risk factors.

To help your loved one or clients with vision problems assist with the following:
Be certain the lighting is adequate for the senior.Control glare by using appropriate window coverings and adjustable lighting.  Low vision problems are responsible for many accidents in the home and adequate lighting is a large part of it.

Replace burned out light bulbs with lights of the same wattage. Be sure stairs, closets and entry ways are illuminated. Outside lights should delineate paths, stairs and walks.

Increase the use of contrast. Paint door trim, replace covers on outlets and light switches and put contrasting tape on steps.

Task lighting is important for reading or hobbies. Seniors love to read the paper…be sure to have a magnifier or a magnifying lamp if needed.

Loss of vision is such a heart break to so many seniors. Luckily, there is a great deal of research being done in the area of macular degeneration, one of the great robbers of eyesight in older individuals.

Do any foods prevent vision loss? Do any foods contribute to it?

Recent studies have found that those who eat large amounts of certain carbohydrates that cause blood sugar levels to rise and then fall rapidly may have a greater chance of developing central vision loss as they age. Examples of these foods are: white bread, rice, potatoes, pasta, sugar and corn syrup.

On the other hand, foods rich in antioxidants have been found to help prevent vision loss, and these include: whole grains, vegetable oil, eggs, nuts, meat, poultry, fish, dairy, carrots, kale, spinach, citrus fruits, green peppers and broccoli. Eating food from this group could help your parent’s vision over the long run.

Thank you to some of our sources: