Old age blindness refers to the gradual loss of vision with age. It is also known sometimes as age-related macular degeneration. It is due to problems in the center of the retina which is responsible for making sharp images. The progression of the disease may be so slow that blindness may happen at a much later stage. Loss of vision regardless of its progression is an uncomfortable and paralyzing experience.
In Pakistan, age-related macular degeneration or age-related blindness is fairly common. According to Health Data, the blindness and vision impairment in Pakistan was 14.6% in 2017. Recent figures for age-related blindness in Pakistan are not available due to lack of research but a 2006 study gives some accurate reflection of the way blindness prevails in the country.
According to Dr. Imran Khan, an eye specialist in Lahore, “The crude prevalence of blindness in the country stands at 3.4 percent. Loss of vision with increasing age has become a very common phenomenon in Pakistan.”
A study confirms the findings of Dr. Imran, which suggests that 94 percent of the Pakistani population between the ages of 30-39 years has perfect vision. For people above the ages of 70, only 23.1% did not have any visual impairment, and the rest 77 percent did have some kind of visual impairment.
With this being approved as a trend in Pakistan, what are the ways and techniques to ensure timely treatment of the problem? We sought the feedback from Dr. Imran about strategies to help deal with vision loss and we’re summarizing it for you in the following paragraphs.
However, please note that the listed strategies, despite being approved by a doctor, do not constitute a formal medical checkup and treatment by a specialist.
Tips for dealing with vision loss
Following are some tips which can life easier for seniors who are coping with old age blindness:
For old people, driving can become impossible once the macular degeneration starts. If they are doing a job then commuting to work can thus become a major problem. Losing a job while they are on the course to losing their vision can be hard on old people. It is thus crucial that their caretakers arrange commute and transportation for them.
Even if they are not able to work anymore, regular visits with the doctor will require transportation and thus should be arranged anyway by the caretakers.
Losing one’s vision does not mean that one has to miss out on everything in life. Technology has made coping with a disability much easier. One of the main problems that people with vision loss face is of mobility. For old people, it is even more important that they stay mobile. Immobility can lead to several other medical issues such as bed sores and frozen bones and should be avoided.
Certain apps have been developed which take in the maps of the houses of people with vision loss and come up with a verbal guiding plan. This app can really help the blind senior citizens in navigating their environments without any accidents.
Reading is usually one of the favorite activities for old people. In the case of vision loss, it does not remain a possibility. It is important for the caretakers to replace this activity with audio based activities such as audio books, radio and music. Music therapy can also help old people cope with depression caused by blindness.
Connecting with the community
Old people are usually isolated because people around them are generally very busy. In case of vision loss, this alienation may even escalate and can send these people into deep depression. Support groups in such a situation are a perfect solution. It is thus imperative that the caretakers of the elderly blind people connect them to the blind community through these groups.
Old age blindness is caused by macular degeneration. It is an incurable condition and can thus wreak havoc on the mental health of the people who go through it. It is important that the caretakers of people, who are facing age-related blindness, make appropriate arrangements for them.
All of the measures stated above are to improve life quality after the onset of vision loss but they all address the mental health of the patients. However, if you find out that something is still not working out, it is imperative to connect with an eye specialist in your city and seek his/her professional advice. Keep in mind that the pace of treatment and cure goes slow in old age, so it will require extensive care and self-help as well.