Community Care Resources - Vision Loss

Vision loss can be partial (involving one eye or parts of visual field) or complete (involving both eyes).  Vision loss can be considered a loss of sight that may occur either gradually or suddenly.  Age-related macular degeneration is Canada’s leading cause of vision loss. (4)

Why is it important?

  • 1 in 11 individuals over the age of 65 are living with vision loss (4)
  • Individuals with vision loss or impairment  experience 2 times the incidence of difficulties in daily living and social dependence, falls, mortality rate; 3 times the incidence of depression; 4 times the incidence of hip fractures (8)

Common Causes

  • Tunnel vision (loss of visual acuity in peripheral fields) can be caused by damage to optic nerve, retina, or to visual input-processing brain areas (6)
  • Long-term double-vision may result in one eye becoming amblyopic (a lazy eye), leading to vision loss
  • Double-vision can occur from impairment of eye muscles, lens, cornea, brain, nerves or from diseases such as stroke, diabetes, myasthenia gravis, Grave’s disease (6)
  • Other common causes of vision loss include damage to the eye, cataracts, detached retina, floaters, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy (4)

Key Considerations

  • Symptoms of vision deterioration include: uncontrolled eye movement, squinting, difficulty driving at night, clumsy movement, falling due to misstep, seeing light flashes, and choosing bright colors (5)
  • Regular eye exams can detect age-related changes, referral to an optometrist may be required; vision can be maintained through corrective glasses, medication or surgery
  • Recognize and manage vision loss; address diabetic retinopathy, refractive error, cataracts, glaucoma, and age-related macular degeneration (7)
  • Manage diabetes, hypertension, and hyperlipidemia; encourage smoking cessation; reduce ultraviolet light exposure; and appropriately respond to medication adverse effects (7)
  • 75% of vision loss can be prevented or treated by an early diagnosis and through lifestyle choices such as wearing UV-protective glasses, controlling diabetes, exercising, getting the right amount of vitamins, maintaining a smoke-free environment, and consuming a diet high in omega-3 fatty acids and dark, leafy greens (4)
  • Encourage communication through use of tools such as alternative large print formats, magnification devices,  tactile clues, adaptive computer equipment, individualized light settings

Consider referring to:

  • The Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians runs a number of national programs and events, in addition to offering online discussion tools, chapters and affiliates, and direct support to those who are blind, deaf-blind and partially sighted (1)
  • The Canadian Council of the Blind offers programs on education bursaries, legal advice, advocacy (2)
  • The Canadian Helen Keller Centre provides one-on-one support/training for deaf-blind seniors and family members (3)
  • C.N.I.B. is a national non-profit rehabilitation agency that provides services for individual who are blind, visually impaired and deaf-blind

References,

1.  A.E.B.C. (2014). Programs. Retrieved February 2014 from: 
     http://www.blindcanadians.ca/programs

2.  Canadian Council of the Blind. (2014). News/Information. Retrieved February 2014 from: 
     http://www.ccbnational.net/Wuzzy/index.php

3.  Canadian Helen Keller Centre. (2014). Home. Retrieved February 2014 from: 
     http://www.chkc.org

4.  CNIB. (2014). Fast Facts about Vision Loss. Retrieved February 2014 from:  
     http://www.cnib.ca/en/about/media/vision-loss/Pages/default.aspx

5.  Health Canada. (2006). Seniors and Aging- Vision Care. Retrieved February 2014 from:
     http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hl-vs/iyh-vsv/life-vie/seniors-aines_vc-sv-eng.php

6.  MedicineNet. (2014). Vision Loss. Retrieved February 2014 from: 
     http://www.medicinenet.com/vision_loss/symptoms.html

7.  Pelletier, A. et al. (2009). Vision Loss in Older Persons. Am Fam Physician, 79(11), 963-970. 
     Retrieved February 2014 from:
     http://www.aafp.org/afp/2009/0601/p963.html

8.  The National Coalition for Vision Health. (2011). Vision Loss in Canada. Retrieved February 2014 from:
     http://www.visionhealth.ca/news/Vision%20Loss%20in%20Canada%20-%20Final.pdf