LTC 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. (1)

Why is it important?

  • 1 in 11 individuals over the age of 65 are living with vision loss (1)
  • 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 (5)

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 (3)
  • 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 (3)
  • Other common causes of vision loss include damage to the eye, cataracts, detached retina, floaters, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy (1)

Key Considerations

  • Be aware of symptoms of vision deterioration, which include: uncontrolled eye movement, squinting, clumsy movement, falling due to misstep, seeing light flashes, and choosing bright colors (2)
  • Recognize and manage vision loss; address diabetic retinopathy, refractive error, cataracts, glaucoma, and age-related macular degeneration (4)
  • Manage diabetes, hypertension, and hyperlipidemia; encourage smoking cessation; reduce ultraviolet light exposure; and appropriately respond to medication adverse effects (4)
  • Enhance communication through use of accommodative tools such as alternative large print formats, magnification devices,  tactile clues, adaptive computer equipment, individualized light settings
  • Place glasses in a readily accessible place
  • Adapt environment to accommodate vision limitations
  • Encourage activities that the patient with vision deficits can undertake

References,

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

2.  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

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

4.  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

5.  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