Monday 30 July 2018


When most people think of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia, memory loss and forgetfulness tend to top the list. Secondary symptoms such as vision-related problems are not as well-known, even though they can actually manifest as primary symptoms for some forms of dementia.
The brain of a typical Alzheimer’s patient has a buildup of beta-amyloid “plaques”. These proteins damage nerve cells in the memory center of the brain, but early studies suggest they may also travel along the optic nerve and accumulate in the eye. Along with impaired vision, this can affect the brain’s ability to process and make sense of visual data.
Common Vision-Related Problems Caused by Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimer’s can lead to visual deficits and cause perception errors in these 5 main areas:
1.  Motion Detection - In some cases, the ability to detect movement is reduced or lost. Instead of seeing the world as a video in real time, affected individuals may perceive it as a photo-reel with a series of still images. It becomes difficult to follow a moving object, watch TV or navigate familiar surroundings.
2.  Depth Perception - The ability to judge distances and changes in elevation, or tell the difference between flat and 3-dimensional objects can also be compromised. People with Alzheimer’s might try to pick up an item that’s printed in a photograph or confuse carpet and flooring borders for steps.
3.  Peripheral Vision - Advancing age causes some loss in peripheral vision, but Alzheimer’s can narrow the field of vision quite drastically. Affected individuals may be startled when people approach them, bump into walls or furniture, and feel disoriented because they cannot see to the sides while facing forward.
4.  Color Perception - The ability to separate colors also reduces as we get older, but this may happen faster or more severely in someone with Alzheimer’s. Blue-violet colors seem to become particularly difficult to recognize. Affected individuals may have trouble coordinating clothes or managing medication.
5.  Contrast Sensitivity - Along with color itself, Alzheimer’s may also affect the ability to differentiate between various shades of the same color. Some people can find it impossible to detect an object when it’s placed on a background with similar colors, such as a white toilet in a bathroom with white floors and walls.
How Can We Help People with Alzheimer’s-Related Vision Problems?
As caregivers, it is our responsibility to support those with blurry vision or other sight issues caused by Alzheimer’s. Here are some ideas on how to make their lives easier:
   Use Good Lighting - Bright, well-lit environments are easier to navigate, but harsh lighting can aggravate light sensitivity. Install dimmer switches indoors and provide sunglasses for outdoor use.
   Get Rid of Clutter - Cluttered floors are confusing and dangerous for Alzheimer’s patients, so keep them obstacle-free. Avoid patterned flooring, and highlight risky areas or objects in bright colors.
   Schedule Eye Checkups - If you’re caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia, take them to see an eye doctor regularly. Early detection and treatment could reduce vision problems.
   Provide Low Vision Aids - Find out about devices and resources available to help people with vision impairments, such as text-to-speech or audio book apps, magnifiers for reading, etc.
   Help Them Travel - Some Alzheimer’s patients may be able to travel on their own, so help them learn about transportation options they can use, and how to find assistance when needed.
Even without throwing dementia or Alzheimer’s in the mix, advancing age is known to affect eyesight and vision. Educating older adults about aging eyes is a crucial step towards keeping them safe, comfortable and healthy.

Author Bio:

Aaron Barriga is the online marketing manager for Insight Vision Center, an Ophthalmology Center in California. With a knack for understanding medical procedures, and an interest in eye and vision health, Aaron loves to share what he knows and what he learns. He blogs to inform readers about the latest eye care technology and other topics related to eye care, especially LASIK. Aaron loves collecting coasters from the different bars and restaurants he visits during his travels.

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