Vision loss is a common but often overlooked symptom of dementia. As the disease progresses, it can profoundly impact a person’s ability to interact with the world around them. Dementia effects profoundly impact visual information, leading to difficulty with activities such as reading and recognizing people or objects. It can also cause physical changes in the eyes, such as cataracts, glaucoma, and macular degeneration, which further impede vision. Do you want to know how dementia causes vision loss? Read this article to learn more!
What is Dementia?
Dementia is a general term used to describe a group of symptoms associated with a decline in cognitive functioning. Due to its debilitating and progressive nature, dementia can lead to many physical and psychological changes. These changes may include memory loss, depression, disorientation, personality changes, difficulty handling complex tasks, and poor vision and other eyesight problems.
Dementia is caused by several other medical conditions (common and uncommon). Among them, Alzheimer's disease is the most popular cause of dementia known to humans.
Alzheimer's Disease: Pathogenesis
Alzheimer's disease is commonly referred to as AD. It is a neuro-degenerative condition associated with the nervous system. The common symptoms that can be found in an AD patient are dementia and progressive neuro-cognitive abnormalities. The pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease is hinged on the intracellular neurofibrillary tangles and the total extracellular Amyloid ß plaques. The neurofibrillary tangle is made up of hyperphosphorylated T-protein in limbic and cortical parts of the brain. Alzheimer's disease increases through infectious agents like viruses. Furthermore, during the pathogenesis of AD, the existence of a high cluster of Amyloid ß peptides in CNS starts microglial infiltration.
Alzheimer's causes visual impairment. The damage done to the brain causes the misinterpretation of images to the eyes, making it hard for AD patients to navigate their environments properly. Unfortunately, visual problems can also put Alzheimer's patients at risk.
What are the Vision Loss Symptoms that Occur With Dementia?
Poor Color Discernment
This is one of the most common effects of Alzheimer’s disease. It makes it difficult to tell colors apart- especially colors associated with the blue-violet color range. You might discover that an Alzheimer’s patient finds it difficult to differentiate between obvious colors.
Troubles with Object Recognition
This effect is associated with the misinterpretation of images by the human brain. People living with dementia may see objects accurately with their eyes. However, their brains may misread what their eyes are seeing. For this reason, dementia patients may not be able to identify things properly.
The Decline of Depth Perception
People living without Alzheimer's disease can easily distinguish between three-dimensional objects and flat objects. Nevertheless, the reverse is the case with dementia patients. They might find it difficult to distinguish distances.
Reduced Peripheral Vision
People living with dementia may experience a reduction in side vision. This may lead to a series of troubles for such people. For instance, tripping over things while working and have difficulty noticing objects at their side. With this said, there is no definitive vision test that can successfully diagnose dementia disease currently.
How to Manage Dementia and Vision Loss
Dementia and vision loss is very common among older people. They begin to experience an increased risk of falling, disorientation, and mobility troubles. People living with dementia and sight loss also find it difficult to learn fast and communicate properly. In addition, both conditions make it hard to use some of the techniques and coping strategies that help people with memory problems. Nevertheless, living with dementia and vision loss does not indicate the end of the world.
Suggestions for People with Dementia and Visual Impairment
In general, the reason for this is that people living with dementia and vision loss can be helped in the following way:
- Liaising with professionals like occupational therapists and rehabilitation workers to support them.
- Being more concerned with what the person can do and creating a plan around what the person is conversant with.
- Excellent eye care. You can ensure that dementia and vision loss patient takes constant eye tests.
- Changing their environment by keeping different areas free at all times and improving lighting.
- Using the latest technology and equipment, such as electronic video magnifiers and low vision E-glasses, to aid learning and moving.
Low Vision Aids for People with Dementia
The above strategies and many more can help vision loss patients cope properly with their condition without experiencing difficulty. However, one of the most effective ways to do this is to provide low-vision devices for people with dementia. Low-vision devices are visual aids created to enhance visual functions in people with low vision. They include wearable E-glasses and electronic video magnifiers. These devices can also be helpful to dementia patients by boosting whatever vision the dementia patients have left. Zoomax is one of these high-tech firms that offer a variety of visual aid devices to help dementia patients experiencing low vision.
A handheld electronic magnifier is a top-notch visual aid for dementia patients. It's known for its portability which enables anyone (young and old) to handle it without any form of stress. Take Zoomax low vision aids as an example, Luna 6 has a built-in handle and a wireless charger, significantly enhancing its usability. Snow 12 provides excellent image quality as well as reading and writing functionality. This means that a dementia patient can use it to read and write. Furthermore, it is a powerful full page of text-to-speech, which benefits dementia patients' speech and enhances communication among dementia patients. Other aids, such as Zoomax Luna 8, Luna S, and others, would also help dementia patients improve their daily output.
One of the challenges faced by dementia patients with low vision is difficulty in noticing objects around them when they move. Low-vision electronic glasses (E-glasses) are effective to solve this problem. Zoomax Acesight and Acesight S are effective solutions for people living with dementia and are recommended by eye doctors for improving the visual conditions of patients and allowing people to see effectively and walk without obstruction.
Dementia is a degenerative disease with symptoms such as memory loss and vision impairment. However, people living with dementia can be managed effectively with strategic planning. Managing dementia patients can help to improve their overall health status. Alzheimer's disease is also a common cause of dementia. Understanding how vision loss can occur in dementia patients is key to providing appropriate care and support. By recognizing and addressing the various causes of vision loss, healthcare professionals can work to improve the quality of life for those living with dementia.
Useful Recourses For People with Dementia
- Alzheimer’s Society: www.alzheimers.org.uk
- Disability equipment centers: www.assist-org.
- Thomas Pocklington Trust: www.pocklington-trust.org.uk for housing and lighting & good practice guides..