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5 Leading Reasons for Blindness in Aging Adults

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According to statistics from the National Federation of the Blind, almost three million people over the age of 65 have some form of visual disability, which amounts to approximately one out of every three seniors. Understanding the following causes of blindness can help you better care for a senior loved one with visual impairment.

1. Cataracts

A cataract is a condition that causes a dense, cloudy area to form in the eye lens, and it occurs because of eye proteins that form clumps and eventually obstruct vision. Cataracts can either develop on their own or may be a secondary condition related to another disease. When cataracts grow severe enough that normal daily activities are impaired, surgery is available to remove them. 

Seniors who have cataracts removed surgically may need assistance with daily tasks during their recovery. The type of senior home care Birmingham, AL, 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.

2. Age-Related Macular Degeneration

The macula is a part of the eye that helps people see fine details. When macular degeneration occurs, the cells in the macula begin to die, leading to central vision loss. There are two forms of macular degeneration: wet and dry. In wet macular degeneration, blood vessels form under the macula and retina, which causes a dark spot to appear in the center of the eye. In dry macular degeneration, small deposits called drusen form under the macula, causing blurred central vision. Though there is no cure for macular degeneration, there are medications to slow the progress, and vision therapy can help seniors manage vision loss.

3. Diabetic Retinopathy

Seniors who have diabetes are at an increased risk of diabetic retinopathy, a condition that occurs when blood sugar levels are uncontrolled. The high blood sugar levels damage the small blood vessels that supply the retina with blood. When these become damaged, leaks or swelling can occur, which in turn affects vision. If diabetic retinopathy isn’t treated, the eyes eventually grow new blood vessels, which typically grow through the center of the retina and cause blindness to occur. Maintaining tight control of blood sugar levels and getting annual exams to screen for diabetic retinopathy are crucial to catching the condition in its early stages, when it’s treatable with laser technology. 

Some aging adults with diabetes may need help making the dietary changes and following the medication schedule necessary to manage their blood sugar levels on their own. Living with a serious health condition 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. Birmingham, AL, seniors can benefit from assistance with meal prep, bathing, transportation to the doctor’s office, medication reminders, and much more.

4. Glaucoma

Glaucoma is a progressive eye disorder that occurs when the fluid pressure in the eyes slowly increases over time. As the pressure increases, it damages the eye’s optic nerve, which is responsible for transmitting information to the brain. When the optic nerve becomes damaged, partial or total loss of vision occurs. Though there is no cure for glaucoma, eye drops and/or surgery can slow or halt vision loss. Early detection is critical for treatment to be effective, so it’s important to stay on top of regular vision exams.

5. Strokes

If a blood clot travels through the body into the brain, it cuts off the vital blood supply and oxygen the brain needs to function properly. This condition is known as a stroke. An estimated two-thirds of people experience issues with their vision after having a stroke, and many of these people have some form of vision loss. The location of the blood clot in the brain determines what type of vision loss is experienced. A blood clot in the left hemisphere of the brain affects the right eye, and a blood clot in the right hemisphere affects the left eye. Visual restoration therapy can help stroke survivors regain all or part of their sight.

Vision loss or impairment can have a huge impact on the ability to perform life’s daily tasks independently, but help is available. Many seniors prefer aging in place over moving to an assisted living facility. If your senior loved one needs assistance to remain safe and comfortable while living at home, reach out to Home Care Assistance, a leading Birmingham home care agency. Our dedicated in-home caregivers can assist with meal prep, bathing and grooming, exercise, medication reminders, and many other important tasks. Reach out to us at Home Care Assistance if you need compassionate, professional care for your loved one. Call one of our dedicated Care Managers today at (205) 438-6927 to learn about the high quality of our in-home care services.