Alzheimer's disease, which can interfere with daily life and functions, is common among seniors, and millions of Americans are affected by it. It is a cognitive disease that can impact many areas of life. Not everyone knows the all signs of dementia and Alzheimer's disease. One area that can be dramatically affected in people with dementia is their vision. Here's what you should know about how dementia patients and what could happen to their eyesight as the disease progresses:
Seeing is believing
With dementia, perception can be slightly altered, which means those affected will see the world in a different way. While many times there is no change in eye health, the way the brain interprets what the eyes see may be different. In some cases, dementia patients will have hallucinations or see illusions. This is much more common in Alzheimer's disease, though it has been known to occur with other forms of dementia.
Here are the most some of the ways vision and perception shifts that can occur:
- Tunnel vision from loss of peripheral sight
- High color contrast
- An inability to discern dimensions
- Need for light to be brighter
- Preference of one eye, typically the right side
- Pattern confusion and a need for simplicity
- Confusion with glare, windows and shadows
For many, these changing visions and perceptions can be confusing, which can also make a person irritable or frustrated and requires support and understanding from friends and family.
How to deal with vision changes
If you have a loved one who experiences vision or perception changes as a result of dementia, there are a few things you can do to support and aid in their care. Those affected may bump into objects because of their poor vision, as their orientation can sometimes be skewed. To help your loved one, you can arrange regular eye checks to ensure a doctor can monitor his or her vision health.
In some cases, vision changes are unrelated to dementia but could be cataracts or issues with eyeglass prescriptions. If someone is having trouble seeing, check that his or her glasses are clean and the prescription is correct. You should also encourage this person to regularly wear glasses. If he or she needs glasses for different reasons, such as reading or watching television, in addition to getting around, multifocal glasses may not be the best option, as they can cause more disorientation in seniors.
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