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Vision and the Elderly
elderly people have visual
impairment, yet they are not blind.
Individuals with Low Vision
have limitations that cannot be corrected
eyeglasses or contact lenses.
In the United States low
commonly considered 20/70 or worse in
the better eye with
correction. Individuals with low vision may also have a decreased
This Snellen eye chart was
originally created by Dutch
Snellen, M.D., in
1862 to determine
The first number refers to the
distance a person
is standing from the chart. A
would be able to read line 8
feet away. Someone who
visual acuity would be able
to see letters
at least as large as
those on the
third line with letters TOZ
while standing 20 feet
away. People with normal vision
could see that
same line while
standing 70 feet away. This condition
decreased distance acuity
is called myopia or
considered a profound visual impairment.
defined by a visual acuity
of 20/200 or
in the better eye with
a visual field
of 20 degrees or less
in the better eye.
this criteria determines
eligibility for certain benefits.
Normal Anatomical Changes in the Aging Eye
likely to scatter light.The lens
becomes denser, more yellow and less elastic, accounting
for loss of accommodation.The pupil
admitting less light. There
is decreased capacity to
to changing levels of illumination. The vitreous
condense and collapse. Bits of gel may appear as floaters.
loses nerve cells and the visual cortex gradually reduces
It is normal to have changes in the aging
the ages of 40 and 50 almost
everybody has difficulty
focusing up close. Presbyopia
is easily corrected with
reading glasses. There are
also changes in color perception
sensitivity so that it may be more
distinguish blue from black or distinguish objects from a
background of similar color.
people need more light to see. But
they are also more
This color contrast makes it easy to
|This color contrast makes
it difficult to read
to glare and very bright lights. Sunglasses and
glare shields can protect the
from bright light and glare.
Vision in the Elderly
|Age Related Macular Degeneration
ARMD results in loss
of or impaired central vision.
causes blurred, distorted or
vision and may
cause a blind spot.
pressure and build-up
of excess fluid in the
eye. Glaucoma first
vision so that the
world appears to be viewed
through a tunnel.
is a condition where one or both lenses which are
cloudy.The condition develops
until vision becomes blurry and
fade. Surgical removal
is a very common and effective
Retinopathy is a condition resulting from the damaging
Inadequate circulation to the retina leads to
changes in the tiny blood vessels
blurriness,increased sensitivity to
in color vision and
clouding of the vitreous.
Who Helps Elderly Individuals With Low
are physicians who specialize in the medical
and surgical care of the
eyes and visual system and in the
prevention, diagnosis and treatment
of eye disease and injury.
health care providers who are licensed to
examine the eyes to
determine visual acuity and prescribe
spectacles, contact lenses and
eye exercises. In some states
optometrists also manage and treat
eye conditions and diseases.
low vision specialist is an
ophthalmologist or optometrist
additional training and expertise to assess, determine
options,prescribe various optical and non optical devices
follow-up services to individuals with low vision.
work with individuals interested in vocational
and independent living.
and Mobility Specialists
teach individuals how to use visual cues in conjunction
other senses to travel safely in both familiar and
focus on teaching individuals
with low vision to use adaptations
living skills and get
around safely in
the home and community. They teach how to use Eccentric Viewing
techniques that utilize the unaffected peripheral vision.Occupational
also help individuals with other impairments such as
arthritis or memory loss be more independent
in mobility and daily
sunglasses, visors, enlarged print, writing
button telephones, bold
bumps on dials.
Note that most phones come with a bump on
Please visit Geriatric
for daily living skills information
helpful to to the elderly
population and Vision
information relevant to elderly individuals with visual impairment
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©2008 Barbara Smith