What Is Vision Reducing Disease?
What It Is
What is vision reducing disease? What Is it caused by? Is there anything I can do about it? What resources are available to help with this condition? I hope to answer these questions and provide some helpful information to deal with this condition.
Vision reducing disease is defined as partial loss of vision, which may be temporary or permanent, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology.
Who It Affects
One in three persons over 65 will have some vision reducing disease, according to American Family Physician. But of course seniors aren’t the only ones that can be affected. For the purposes of this article, however, I will be mostly addressing the senior citizens affected by these diseases.
The most common causes are:
- age-related macular degeneration
- diabetic retinopathy.
The Common Causes; a Brief Overview
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is characterized by the loss of central vision (simple definition, the image perceived by the center of the eye). It is the leading cause of vision impairment in people over 60 years of age. More than 10 million Americans are affected by it.
In layman’s terms, what happens is the small center portion of the retina, which is the macula, wears down. The macula is the part of the eye that focuses our center of vision. It gives us the ability to read and do other activities which require sight. When it wears down, vision loss occurs. There are three stages; early, intermediate, and late. In the late stage is where the loss is noticeable.
Cells that shouldn’t be in the eye form deposits within the macula. Symptoms include: Blurred vision, image distortion, central scotoma, and difficulty reading. Complete vision loss is usually not associated with AMD.
Studies indicate that age is the biggest factor in getting this disease. Other factors are family history, race (Caucasians are more likely than Blacks or Hispanics to have it.), and smoking. There is no cure.
It is important however, to have regular eye exams once you are in this age category.
For more information see this article from the American Macular Degeneration Foundation.
An estimated 1 million Americans over 65 have suffered vision loss due to glaucoma related disease. It is the most common cause of blindness among black Americans. It is the cause of blindness among 75 percent of older Americans.
Essentially it is caused by pressure in the eye getting too high and pushing on the optic nerve inside the eye. This can damage nerves that run from the eye to the brain. It affects the periphery of the vision field. It results in vision field loss and later blurred vision.
To deal with the pressure various medications are prescribed. These of course will have side effects. Surgery may also be recommended if the disease can not be managed by medication. Surgery is usually successful in bringing down the pressure.
Again, because this disease affects older people mostly, it is essential that they get an eye exam every one to two years.
Cataracts generally refer to the lens of the eye becoming opaque. This disease’s prevalence increases with age, to 50% of the cases occurring in people 75 or older. It is the most common cause of blindness worldwide. It is usually experienced with gradual reduction of clarity in vision.
It causes blurred vision, glare, and monocular diplopia (double vision in one eye).
Cataract surgery is one of the most performed surgeries in the US, performed when the cataract has progressed to where it interferes with daily activities. Surgeries are usually successful and are performed on an outpatient basis.
As the name suggests, diabetic retinopathy is related to diabetes. Retinopathy refers to the retina being damaged so there is loss of vision. It manifests as blurred vision, floaters, visual field loss and poor night vision.
It becomes more common in people with diabetes as diabetes continues. Both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes can be affected by this disease. But blood glucose management can positively affect retinopathy.
Laser surgery has success with treating the symptoms of this disease. But early detection is the best avenue, where the sufferer can take steps to manage diabetes.
I am not a doctor or a healthcare professional. I researched these terms so I would better understand the causes of vision loss, especially in seniors. Hopefully the descriptions gave you a little more information. Most of this information was from an article from American Family Physician.
Any concerns you have about your eye health (or any health concerns) should be discussed with your doctor.
How Can You Adapt?
Losing your vision is a life changing situation. If you are reading this article, you must be suffering yourself, or have a loved one who is.
My personal recommendation is to be proactive in your adjustment to this disease. Yes, you will have to make serious lifestyle changes, but thankfully there are several options to make your life full and purposeful.
First and foremost, see an eye doctor, or ophthalmologist. This person can diagnose your problem and direct you to your best treatment options.
You can tell I am a proactive person. I have spent months of research for my other website, which presents natural pain remedy (thenaturalpainremedy.com) options. And these options usually take effort. So it is with vision impairment.
Once you have the information you need, plan your new approaches. I hope you have a loved one that will come alongside you and assist you in your search. You may need them to drive you, help you shop, and get used to your new life.
If you have a good health plan, you should be referred to a specialist who can provide you with information for technology that is available.
If you are diagnosed as legally blind (and you don’t have to be completely blind), you qualify for several discounts and preferential treatment. Make sure to get a document from your doctor stating this so you can apply for these programs.
What Technologies Are Available For This Disease?
There are several devices, programs and apps available for people with vision issues.
Braille Institute (US) A wonderful organization that assists the blind and vision impaired. They can help with adjustments to your new life, providing information about devices, and other helpful programs. Their number is: 1-800-272-4553. Or go to their website: https://www.brailleinstitute.org/. There is another article from them that you might find helpful. Click here.
If you are a US Military Veteran, you may qualify for further assistance and devices, like a Mac book, iPhone, cane and training. Braille Institute can give you that information.
Ruby A handheld or desktop device that enlarges and illuminates documents so that you can read them.
Voice Activated Assistants like Siri or Alexa.
As far as I know, most of these apps are on Apple and Android products. These apps are available here in the US. I don’t know about other countries.
One of the biggest helps to my vision impaired friend is the ability to invert colors on his smartphone. He had to change from his Apple to an Android because in an IOS update he couldn’t invert anymore. See my article on the Google Pixel he chose.
With the colors inverted he can research on the web. Otherwise he can’t read the screens.
If You Are A Reader
BARD (National Library of Science) is a digital download of books and magazines, and even music scores. You actually have to be diagnosed with a vision impairment to qualify for this program. This program seems to have the largest selection of titles for a wide range of subjects. (Compared to RB Digital and Libby.)
RB Digital (OneClickDigital) gives a summary of the book.
Libby (Overdrive) you have to listen to the beginning of the book to know what it is about. Requires a library card.
Ebooks There is a summary before you decide. Can actually read it using inverted colors. Some are free, for others there is a fee. Not very easy to use for low vision people. My low vision friend says audio books are easier than eBooks at this point.
Kindle and ePUB, are both downloadable programs where you can read (if you have some vision)
Librivox you can listen to books not in public domain. Can listen to old radio programs.
Seeing AI (Apple) or Tap Tap See (Android and IOS) uses your phone camera to identify what the app sees.
This post on Everyday Sight is worth reading. They know much more than I do about what’s available.
I feel I have only scratched the service when it comes to discussing devices and apps that can help you. But this article is long enough as it is.
How about you let me know what device you would like reviewed? I would be happy to do research.
Or leave a comment if you have used a helpful device. It would help the community of vision impaired people.
Sometimes I have affiliate links to products where I might earn a small renumeration. I do not have any affiliate links in this post. This information is provided in hopes it helps you in your issues with vision disease.