As people age, their eyesight often diminishes. Certain health conditions can cause blurred vision, double vision, diminished peripheral vision, and even total blindness. Here are five leading causes of blindness in the elderly and how you can help your aging loved one address these vision issues.
Glaucoma refers to elevated eye pressure. The two types of glaucoma are open-angle glaucoma and closed-angle glaucoma. Open-angle glaucoma is more common, and while both types can lead to blindness in the elderly, closed-angle glaucoma generally causes more severe symptoms, including intense eye pain, ocular redness, headaches, and sometimes nausea and vomiting. Special eye drops can lower eye pressure, but they do little to boost vision.
If your loved one complains of eye pain or vision loss, make an appointment with an eye doctor. If eye drops are prescribed, assist your loved one with applying them to make sure the medication gets into the eye and the tip of the bottle doesn’t touch the eye’s surface.
2. Diabetic Retinopathy
Poorly managed or long-term diabetes can raise the risk of blindness in seniors. Diabetes can cause blood vessel damage, including damage to the small blood vessels of the retina behind the eye. While laser surgery can slow the progression of diabetic retinopathy, it may not enhance vision.
You can help your loved one reduce the risk of retinal damage related to diabetes by making sure he or she takes all prescribed medications, follows a healthy diet, gets daily exercise, avoids excess weight, and keeps all scheduled medical appointments.
Some seniors with diabetes may find it challenging to handle their blood sugar levels on their own. Living with serious health conditions can make it challenging for seniors to age in place. However, they can maintain a higher quality of life with the help of professional live-in care. Jefferson County seniors can benefit from assistance with meal prep, bathing, transportation to the doctor’s office, medication reminders, and much more.
Cerebral vascular accidents, or strokes, can lead to partial or total blindness. The risk of strokes increases as people age, especially if they have preexisting medical conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or heart disease. To reduce your loved one’s risk of a stroke and subsequent blindness, monitor his or her salt intake to prevent sodium-related hypertension. Also, if your loved one smokes or drinks excessive amounts of alcohol, encourage quitting because both of these lifestyle choices can raise blood pressure, cause cardiac arrhythmia, and increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
Cataracts refer to a clouding or opacity of the eye’s natural lens. With cataracts, vision is often dim, blurred, cloudy, or hazy, and colors sometimes appear dull. While cataracts don’t cause symptoms such as pain, redness, or burning sensations, they can lead to blindness if not treated. A stronger eyeglass prescription can minimally increase vision. While new glasses can help, the only permanent treatment option is the surgical removal of the cataract and replacing the eye’s natural lens with an intraocular implant.
Seniors who have surgery to remove cataracts may find daily tasks challenging as they recover, and a professional caregiver can be a great asset. The type of at-home care seniors need can vary. Some need assistance a few hours a day, while others require more extensive around-the-clock assistance. At Home Care Assistance, we tailor our care plans based on each senior’s individual care needs, and the plans can be adjusted at any time.
5. Age-Related Macular Degeneration
As people get older, the risk of age-related macular degeneration, or damage to the eye’s macula, rises. Depending on the severity of the condition, symptoms of age-related macular degeneration can range from mildly blurred vision and depth perception problems to total blindness. Laser surgery can sometimes slow the progression of macular degeneration, but total restoration of visual function is rare.
Blindness can have a major effect on the ability to perform everyday tasks, but help is just a phone call away. Many seniors prefer aging in place over moving to assisted living facilities. If your senior loved one needs assistance to remain safe and comfortable while living at home, reach out to Home Care Assistance, a leading Jefferson County senior home care agency. Our dedicated in-home caregivers can assist with meal prep, bathing and grooming, exercise, medication reminders, and many other important tasks. Call us today at (303) 987-5992 to discuss how we can give you the peace of mind that comes from knowing your loved one is being cared for with professionalism and compassion.