Healthy Vision and Aging
Fr. Cesar, Clinical Chaplain
About 6.5 million Americans aged 40 and above have vision impairment, including about 1 million who are blind. This is expected to increase in number as the population continues to age. Since the loss of vision is so common, we tend to assume that it is a normal part of aging; however, it doesn’t have to be. Some of these issues can be remedied, for example, by using corrective lenses or Lasik surgery. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) suggests that vision loss can be mitigated by eating a healthy diet and not smoking. It is also helpful to know one’s family history because some vision problems are hereditary and could be addressed by early treatments. Additionally, a regular or annual eye exam is ideal for the detection of potential vision problems.
Some of the most common issues associated with vision loss include losing the ability to see up close, having trouble discriminating between colors, and needing more time to adjust to changing levels of light. Because of these, adults (often seniors) see a decrease in their independence especially when they are unable to drive or socialize. Many also feel embarrassed when they fail to distinguish people’s faces due to poor vision. For many, the consequences of the loss of independence due to poor eyesight are depression due to increased isolation and lack of social contacts, decreased quality of life, and fall injuries.
It is critical that caregivers and healthcare providers become aware of and understand the decreased visual health of a patient so that they can adjust the appropriate delivery of care. Patients with decreased vision may need extra support to prevent them from sustaining injuries, for example, when they need to navigate their house while going to locations such as the kitchen or the bathroom. We at HOPE Hospice are fully aware of the challenges faced by our patients who have decreased vision and we accordingly adjust our approach to their care. If you would like to know more about how we care for our vision-impaired patients, please do not hesitate to contact us.