Vision Concerns for Older Adults


For those with low vision, the quality of their vision interferes with their ability to perform everyday activities. Tasks such as reading the mail or a book are challenging. Other obstacles include activities such as shopping, cooking, writing, driving and even the ability to enjoy a movie or television.

You hear more about low vision as people age because as we grow older we are more likely to contract the diseases that can cause low vision such as Glaucoma, Cataract and one of the most common diseases, Age related Macular Degeneration, commonly known as AMD.

AMD is a disease that blurs the sharp, central vision you need for straight-ahead activities and tasks such as reading and driving. The disease affects the macula; the part of the eye that allows you to see fine detail. Although there is not currently a cure for Age related Macular Degeneration; there are treatment options available to help stabilize vision loss.

Prevention is the key to minimizing the risk of AMD. Studies suggest that following a healthy low fat diet, wearing sun glasses for protection from ultraviolet rays and not smoking all help fight against the risks of contracting the disease. If you are a smoker, make a plan to quit as tobacco prevents the absorption of Lutein (an antioxidant) which is essential for eye health. Please check What is AMD? and Sunglasses: Cool Protection against Eye Diseases, Glaucoma Included to learn more.

You should make it a point to see your eye care professional annually for a thorough eye exam.

Besides AMD, Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that can damage the eye's optic nerve and can result in vision loss and blindness. With early treatment, serious vision loss is preventable. Early diagnosis is very important for this kind.

Immediate treatment for early stage, open-angle glaucoma can greatly delay progression of the disease. Anyone can develop glaucoma but some are at higher risk than others including: African Americans over age 40, everyone over the age of 60 and those with a family history of glaucoma. Treatment options for Glaucoma include medicines, laser trabeculoplasty, conventional surgery, or a combination of these. Treatments may save remaining vision, but cannot improve sight already lost from glaucoma. You can find details in About Glaucoma page.

Cataracts are another disease that affects vision as we age. A cataract is a clouding of the lens in the eye that affects vision. Most cataracts are related to aging. By age 80, more than half of all Americans either have a cataract or have had cataract surgery. Cataracts can develop in either or both eyes but cannot be spread from one eye to another. Most are easily treated. Zoomax has the prevention advice in About Cataract.

It is important for all people to have their eyes examined regularly but as we age it becomes even more important to keep our eyes healthy.

People with low vision should be aware that there are many rehabilitation services available. Services include training in the use of magnification, electronic and computer-assistance devices as well as mobility training if needed. These and many other services are available through the Service to the Blind and Visually Impaired. These services help people maximize their remaining vision and teach alternate ways to perform activities around your home and community. To learn more about these services see your local eye care professional or a low vision specialist in your area who can make the referral for you. Zoomax also listed some low vision resources for your reference.

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