February is Low Vision Awareness Month. To help shed light on the subject, throughout the entire month of February, The Aging Suite will be discussing low vision topics. We’ll also feature low vision devices in our Technology in The Suite.
It is estimated that one in 28 Americans age 40 and older are affected by low vision or blindness. Low vision deficits are permanent visual impairments that cannot be corrected with the use of contact lenses, glasses, or surgery.
Diseases such as macular degeneration, glaucoma, cataracts, and retinitis pigmentosa can affect an individual’s performance, safety, and independence in their home and community. An estimated 21.1% of individuals 75 years old or older have low vision.
People with low vision deficits often struggle with functional daily living skills that can impact the quality of their lives in their homes and communities.
Low Vision can impact someone’s ability to:
Research has indicated that older adults with low vision are at increased risk for depression, may be more distressed due to feelings of loss of control, have increased fear of dependency upon others, and may also have a perceived loss of their ability to maintain their social roles. Studies have also indicated that individuals with visual impairments are less mobile, have higher mortality rates, and are more likely to have accidents and falls. However, Low vision rehabilitation services can help; they allow people with visual impairments to utilize adaptive devises and techniques to assist them towards independence when performing their daily activities. Studies have also indicated that patients who have participated in low vision rehabilitation programs have demonstrated an improvement with quality of life; and low vision services helped decrease client’s fears about their deteriorating vision.
Sources: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Psychosocial issues in older adults’ adjustment to vision loss: Findings from qualitative interviews and focus groups, Quality of life of low-vision patients and outcomes of low-vision rehabilitation