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Adapting to New Realities: Five Strategies for Coping with Age-Related Vision Loss

Woman holding glasses and rubbing her eyes

Picture a world without the sense of sight, and it becomes clear that vision is among our most vital senses. While we can navigate life without taste or smell, the absence of sight can introduce unique challenges.

Unfortunately, age-related vision loss is a reality many face as we age. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), one percent of people over 50 experience vision loss. That statistic surges to more than 20% among those in their 80s.

However, it’s crucial to understand that an increased risk of vision issues doesn’t equate to an inability to lead a fulfilling life.

Today, we’ll explore empowering strategies to help us cope with age-related vision loss and enhance our overall quality of life.

Understanding Vision Loss: Types and Causes of Age-Related Vision Loss

According to the Cleveland Clinic, the most common type of vision disturbances people experience as they age are:

  • Glaucoma
  • Cataracts
  • Floaters
  • Flashes
  • Presbyopia
  • Dry eyes
  • Excess tearing
  • Losing the ability to see close-up
  • Needing more time to adjust to varying light
  • The inability to distinguish colors that are close in shade

Other age-related vision conditions include the following:

  • Age-related macular degeneration
  • Diabetes-related retinopathy
  • Retinal detachment
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Corneal diseases
  • Temporal arteritis

Seniors might also have issues with their eyelids that can impact their vision. Drooping eyelids (ptosis), inflamed eyelids (blepharitis), or blinking spasms (blepharospasm) can lead to vision changes. These conditions are often successfully treated with minor surgical procedures or medication.

What Causes Age-Related Vision Loss?

As we age, our vision can weaken, especially if we have or have had poor health. Smoking, a poor diet, high blood pressure, diabetes, and exposure to UV radiation can contribute to vision loss.

Can You Prevent Age-Related Vision Issues?

Some eye problems are simply more prevalent as people age. However, many vision issues can be prevented by:

  • Maintaining good blood pressure
  • Maintaining healthy blood sugar levels
  • Wearing sunglasses
  • Wearing the correct prescription lenses
  • Seeing your eye doctor annually
  • Stopping smoking
  • Eating a nutrient-rich diet
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Taking vision breaks from electronic devices every 20 minutes

Additionally, many conditions can be treated with surgery, laser treatments, and medications (including eye drops).

Why Early Detection Is Important: When and How to Seek Professional Help

The earlier a problem is detected, the easier it is to treat - and the more successful the treatment.

Even in situations where there isn’t a cure for a condition (such as age-related macular degeneration), early detection is vital. Your ophthalmologist can monitor disease progression and make recommendations that can slow the progression, such as:

Adjusting to Changing Needs: Tips for Successfully Living with Age-Related Vision Loss

If you’re struggling with vision changes, there are steps you can take to make life so much easier.

Organize Your Living Space

Keep your home organized and tidy. Leaving things lying around—especially on the floor—is an accident waiting to happen. Your Chicago caregiver can help you declutter for safety and ease of movement. Your ophthalmologist can recommend effective lighting solutions as well.

Utilize Large-Print Services

According to Statista, baby boomers are the second-largest generation group, with 68.59 million in the U.S. Because a substantial portion of the population is dealing with age-related vision changes, companies are taking note.

Several companies now offer more large-print books, magazines, and labels. Smartphones and tablets have settings that allow you to adjust text size.

Smartphones and Apps That Can Help

Smart devices (phones, doorbells, refrigerators, thermostats, etc.) also utilize Siri, Alexa, or other voice-regulated assistants.

There are also several apps available for the visually impaired that can:

  • Read your screen for you
  • Help with public transportation
  • Help match clothing colors

Adaptive Kitchen Tools

Companies like The Carroll Center for the Blind provide adaptive kitchen tools and gadgets such as:

  • Timers with extra-large displays
  • Liquid level indicators
  • Spice auto-measure carousels
  • Talking food scales

Seek Support and Community

If you’re struggling with depression due to vision changes, join a vision loss support group. There are various resources for the vision impaired in and around Chicago. These resources can help by providing:

  • Support
  • Courses to learn about the latest technology and treatment options
  • Education for family and friends
  • Various services

Another option is to utilize local rehabilitation services to maintain eye health for as long as possible.

Addressing Driving Concerns with Age-Related Vision Loss

Driving is one of the main things people do to feel a sense of freedom. They can get in their car and run errands. Or get in their car and go on a road trip. Whatever they want to do, they can do.

Unfortunately, driving is a visually demanding activity. You need to see well to operate a vehicle safely – both for yourself, those in your car, and others on the road.

Annual vision exams can help you keep up with any vision changes. Wearing the correct prescription lenses can help you continue driving safely.

Sadly, with certain age-related vision changes comes the need to give up driving. This can feel emotionally unbearable to some. They hate relying on others and feel they’re giving up their freedom.

Such feelings are understandable. And they can be overcome.

Try focusing on non-driving activities. Find other things that provide a sense of control and freedom. Look into ride-share options or carpooling with friends and family. Avoid saying you “can’t drive,” and instead say, “I’m retiring from driving.” Think about how much money you’ll save by not having to maintain a car, pay for gas, or purchase a new vehicle.

You Can Maintain Your Independence and Happiness Despite Age-Related Vision Loss

We all want to maintain a sense of independence as we get older—even if we’re struggling with age-related vision loss.

The good news is that we live in an era of innovation, where abundant tools and resources can empower us and restore our sense of freedom.

As you navigate the path of age-related vision loss, please remember you aren’t alone. Contact your Chicago caregiver or healthcare professional to learn about your options. They can offer valuable insights and recommend specific tools/resources tailored to your needs.

With your caregiver’s support—and vision aids—you can continue to live your life to the fullest, regardless of what challenges come your way.

Are you interested in a fulfilling career as a caregiver? Get in touch today by calling Homewatch CareGivers at 888-404-5191 to explore your caregiving options.

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