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Understanding Vision Loss in Seniors …. would you rather lose your vision or not be able to walk? I’ve come across this question a few times and my answer has never changed, I rather not walk than lose my vision. Why, because vision impacts my quality of life. I can still see and not have a fear of not being able to see or predict the unknown. Studies show about 70% of seniors think the same way. Having a vision impairment can negatively impact your quality of life, especially if you are an older adult. “Approximately 1.8 million noninstitutionalized elderly report some difficulty with basic activities such as bathing, dressing, and walking around the house due to vision impairment” (Brawley 39).

Although vision loss is considered a “normal” part of aging, it’s always important to receive basic eye care. Many people tend to deny they are losing their vision so be aware of the signs. Such as lack of eye contact, unusual head movements, inability to recognize familiar objects, bumping into objects, withdrawal from activities and losing or misplacing things.

So why does our vision start diminishing as we get older? Well, the truth is, as we age our pupils become smaller, so the amount of light we take in decreases. At age 65 the amount of light that enters the eye is reduced to two-thirds. The steady loss of vision can become very overwhelming for a senior, their eyes increase sensitivity to glare and decrease sensitivity to contrast. About 92 % of persons 70 years or older use glasses and about 18% use a magnifying glass for reading (Brawley 40). The biggest challenge becomes learning to adjust to the environment while experiencing vision changes. Although most of us as we age experience normal changes to our vision, there are 4 age-related eye diseases to be aware of.

 

  1. Macular Degeneration: The deterioration of the macula, the central area of the retina, is the prevalent eye disease.

macular-degeneration-north-star-senior-advisors

  1. Cataract: An opacity of the lens results in diminished acuity but does not affect the field of vision.

cataract image

  1. Glaucoma: Chronic elevated eye pressure in susceptible individuals may cause optic nerve atrophy and loss of peripheral vision.

glaucoma-north-star-senior-advisors

  1. Diabetic Retinopathy: The leaking of retinal blood vessels may occur in advance or long- term diabetes and affect the macula or the entire retina and vitreous.

Diabetic Retinopathy-north-star-senior-advisors

 

Now that we understand the differences between the 4 age-related eye diseases, let’s talk about how light affects our Circadian Rhythm. Basically, our Circadian Rhythm is a 24-hour internal clock that runs in the back of our brain and determines when we are alert or sleepy. “Many older adults, particularly ones who live in senior living facilities, don’t receive adequate exposure to the bright light so important to the entrainment and synchronization of the circadian system” (Brawley 45). Studies have shown that seniors in facilities tend to only receive 9 minutes of bright light per day. Receiving an adequate amount of sunlight exposure has many positive effects for seniors with vision loss. There have been recent findings that show people who have lost their eyesight completely are still cable of resetting their circadian rhythm.

Seniors tend to have a difficult time with basic everyday activities, to include medication management. If the elderly person cannot see what’s written on pill bottles or see the shape or color of their medication, they can accidentally take the wrong medication or double up on their dose. We have also heard of seniors miscalculating their money and overpaying at stores.

In conclusion, vision loss can be a huge detriment. However, receiving basic eye care, eating healthy and exercising can decrease the chances of developing age-related eye diseases.  We will discuss the advantages of creating outside spaces in senior living facilities in our next blog. Stay tuned!

 

 

 

 

Reference: Brawley , Elizabeth C. “Aging Vision and Health .” Design Innovations for Aging and Alzheimer’s, John Wiley & Sons, Inc. , 2006, pp. 39–45

About the author : Veronica Quiñones

headshot of Veronica Quiñones

Owner and Senior Advisor

Article by:

Veronica Quiñones

Owner and Senior Advisor

headshot of Veronica Quiñones

Recent Posts

Topics

Share this article on social media!

Understanding Vision Loss in Seniors …. would you rather lose your vision or not be able to walk? I’ve come across this question a few times and my answer has never changed, I rather not walk than lose my vision. Why, because vision impacts my quality of life. I can still see and not have a fear of not being able to see or predict the unknown. Studies show about 70% of seniors think the same way. Having a vision impairment can negatively impact your quality of life, especially if you are an older adult. “Approximately 1.8 million noninstitutionalized elderly report some difficulty with basic activities such as bathing, dressing, and walking around the house due to vision impairment” (Brawley 39).

Although vision loss is considered a “normal” part of aging, it’s always important to receive basic eye care. Many people tend to deny they are losing their vision so be aware of the signs. Such as lack of eye contact, unusual head movements, inability to recognize familiar objects, bumping into objects, withdrawal from activities and losing or misplacing things.

So why does our vision start diminishing as we get older? Well, the truth is, as we age our pupils become smaller, so the amount of light we take in decreases. At age 65 the amount of light that enters the eye is reduced to two-thirds. The steady loss of vision can become very overwhelming for a senior, their eyes increase sensitivity to glare and decrease sensitivity to contrast. About 92 % of persons 70 years or older use glasses and about 18% use a magnifying glass for reading (Brawley 40). The biggest challenge becomes learning to adjust to the environment while experiencing vision changes. Although most of us as we age experience normal changes to our vision, there are 4 age-related eye diseases to be aware of.

 

  1. Macular Degeneration: The deterioration of the macula, the central area of the retina, is the prevalent eye disease.

macular-degeneration-north-star-senior-advisors

  1. Cataract: An opacity of the lens results in diminished acuity but does not affect the field of vision.

cataract image

  1. Glaucoma: Chronic elevated eye pressure in susceptible individuals may cause optic nerve atrophy and loss of peripheral vision.

glaucoma-north-star-senior-advisors

  1. Diabetic Retinopathy: The leaking of retinal blood vessels may occur in advance or long- term diabetes and affect the macula or the entire retina and vitreous.

Diabetic Retinopathy-north-star-senior-advisors

 

Now that we understand the differences between the 4 age-related eye diseases, let’s talk about how light affects our Circadian Rhythm. Basically, our Circadian Rhythm is a 24-hour internal clock that runs in the back of our brain and determines when we are alert or sleepy. “Many older adults, particularly ones who live in senior living facilities, don’t receive adequate exposure to the bright light so important to the entrainment and synchronization of the circadian system” (Brawley 45). Studies have shown that seniors in facilities tend to only receive 9 minutes of bright light per day. Receiving an adequate amount of sunlight exposure has many positive effects for seniors with vision loss. There have been recent findings that show people who have lost their eyesight completely are still cable of resetting their circadian rhythm.

Seniors tend to have a difficult time with basic everyday activities, to include medication management. If the elderly person cannot see what’s written on pill bottles or see the shape or color of their medication, they can accidentally take the wrong medication or double up on their dose. We have also heard of seniors miscalculating their money and overpaying at stores.

In conclusion, vision loss can be a huge detriment. However, receiving basic eye care, eating healthy and exercising can decrease the chances of developing age-related eye diseases.  We will discuss the advantages of creating outside spaces in senior living facilities in our next blog. Stay tuned!

 

 

 

 

Reference: Brawley , Elizabeth C. “Aging Vision and Health .” Design Innovations for Aging and Alzheimer’s, John Wiley & Sons, Inc. , 2006, pp. 39–45

Article by:

Veronica Quiñones

Owner and Senior Advisor

headshot of Veronica Quiñones

Recent Posts

Topics