It is quite common to experience changes in our vision as we age, but the necessity to wear prescription glasses isn’t the only nuisance that arrives with vision loss. In fact, visual impairment isn’t just about not being able to see things clearly anymore – it can affect our mental health, too.
Nearly 1.6 million Americans over the age of 50 suffer from age-related macular degeneration and nearly 3.6 million adults over the age of 40 are either blind or visually impaired. These are large numbers of people who have difficulty seeing, but they are at risk for a greater threat.
Vision problems put seniors at risk for social isolation, disability
Previous research has found that vision problems increase the risk of social isolation and disability. The researchers compared 250 seniors with eye problems to 100 seniors with normal vision. The researchers found that only 16 percent of adults with normal vision said they limited their activities due to the fear of falling, compared to 40 to 50 percent of seniors with a vision disorder.
Participants who were most likely to report a withdrawal from activities were women as well as individuals with worsened vision, depression, or numerous other ailments.
Study author Ellen Freeman said, “I was surprised at how frequently people with eye disease reported limiting their activities due to fear of falling. Clearly, this is something that is affecting many people with eye disease.”
“It is important to know more about which activities are being limited due to fear of falling. We can then develop and test interventions to help people feel more confident about their ability to safely do those activities. If we could develop a brief, effective intervention focused on select activities, I would like to see it offered in the clinical setting. Then we could encourage people to see a low-vision rehabilitation specialist if they want more training,” Freeman added.
Freeman and her team suggest that those with visual impairments should stay as active as possible in order to reduce the risk of other health conditions related to physical inactivity.
If you are experiencing changes to your vision, visit your eye doctor, as the solution may be as easy as wearing corrective lenses. Being afraid to participate in activities due to vision problems can take a toll on your life and increase the risk of health complications. Therefore, implementing some measures to protect your vision or correct it is necessary to live a fulfilled life.