Healthy Vision Month
Eugene* is a 67-year-old man who lives alone. He does not see as well as he used to. He uses a magnifying glass to read the small print of the daily news, and he has difficulty seeing the steps in the dimly lit hallway of his apartment. Over the years, driving at night has also become a problem. So now he tries to go out only when needed during the day in his neighborhood.
Eugene has cataracts. Eye care providers recommend that people aged 65 and older have complete exams by their eye doctors to check for cataracts in addition to other eye diseases such as diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, and age-related macular degeneration. Eye disease is not always the answer to the cause of problems seeing. Often the solution is as simple as a new prescription for glasses. Imagine what dangers from falls and car accidents Eugene can avoid to himself and his surrounding community if he is able to visit his eye doctor.
Vision impairment impacts our aging population at an astonishing rate. Of the total estimated 3.3 million visually impaired adults in the United States, 2.9 million were aged 65 years or older. In particular, cataracts are the leading cause of low vision, responsible for approximately 50% of vision worse than 20/40 in adults. 1
Poor vision also impacts everyday living. Vision impairment is associated with more than 2 falls in older adults. 2 There is also a high correlation between vision impairment in older adults and the ability to perform activities of everyday living such as eating, dressing, reading, and face recognition. 3
Some changes in vision are normal with age. However when vision loss impacts everyday living, it is important to visit an eye care professional to determine whether the vision loss is correctable with glasses or whether there is some underlying eye disease or medical condition causing low vision.
* This is an example of what many people with cataracts may experience. Models are for illustrative purposes only.
2Visual impairment and falls in older adults: the Blue Mountains Eye Study. Ivers RQ, Cumming RG, Mitchell P, Attebo K. J Am Geriatr Soc. 1998 Jan;46(1):58–64.
3 Relationship between vision impairment and ability to perform activities of daily living. Haymes SA, Johnston AW, Heyes AD. Ophthalmic Physiol Opt. 2002 Mar;22(2):79–91.