Low vision is a term used to describe a condition caused by eye disease. A person with low vision has a 20/70 visual acuity (or worse) in a “better-seeing” eye. This condition cannot be corrected or improved with visual aids like eyeglasses.
Partial vision or partial blindness are terms that were once used in reference to low vision, but they are no longer in general use.
Vision loss is a common problem for seniors. Many age-related vision problems can be corrected with eye medications, surgery or eyeglasses. However, low vision can cause significant trouble for aging adults. Not only does the vision loss affect daily living habits and the ability to care for oneself independently, the vision challenge can also take away the ability to perform hobbies and to participate in other beloved activities. Dealing with the vision loss along with losing the ability to live how one is used to, can be devastating and cause significant depression and anxiety for seniors. Seniors who suffer from low vision often struggle with social isolation, limited resources, poverty and diminished mobility also.
To help minimize the negative impact that accompanies low vision, there are many activities that seniors can participate in and enjoy, decreasing the negative impact from the vision loss.
- Books on Tape – For seniors who are active readers, listening to books on tape can help reduce stress and provide an opportunity to enjoy their favorite authors and books. They may even find that they can enjoy the hobby even more through listening and focusing attention.
- Pet Therapy – Never underestimate the power of pets. Pet therapy is great for people with all types of disabilities and just as much for people who suffer from low vision. Pets help decrease loneliness and instill feelings of joy and comfort.
- Water Aerobics and Yoga – Calming exercises like water aerobics and yoga are great for people with low vision. There isn’t a ton of movement, but both activities provide enough exercise to reap great benefits that can help improve sleep, decrease stress, and release natural endorphins that help people feel happier and healthier.
- Fishing – Fishing doesn’t require a lot of sight. Scheduling a fishing day with a friend or companion allows for relaxation and socialization, not to mention the confidence boost from catching the fish itself.
- Motivational Speaking – Nothing makes people feel better than when they realize how much strength and endurance they have. Public speaking may not be for everyone, but many seniors have lived a life that is full of wisdom, encouragement and inspiration and have a lot to offer to others. Motivational speaking at retirement homes, colleges, and other schools can give an aging adult purpose, self-love and a sense of accomplishment and pride.
- Social Groups – Any social group can be a good social group. Socializing can limit the effects of depression and anxiety. Talking with others and hearing others’ stories can take people out of their own minds and help decrease the negative impact of vision loss.
Any senior struggling with vision loss may require some extra care. In-home aides are perfect companions, errand-runners and can assist with many activities of daily living. If you know a senior with low vision, don’t rule out the benefits of contacting an in-home caregiver who can help reduce the negative impact low vision can have.