Dementia and Vision Problems – How Dementia Affects Eyesight

vision and dementia - dementia care anchorage

Seniors with dementia often experience various kinds of vision problems.

The complicated steps necessary to enable us to see are mind-boggling. Within the blink of an eye, our brains are able to take transmitted details of the environment all around us, translate that information based on input from other senses, memories, and thoughts, and then build an understanding of that information to make us aware of what we are seeing.  

It is not surprising that there is a connection between dementia and vision problems. Individuals with Alzheimer’s disease can encounter visual deficits and misperceptions, particularly in the aspects of: 

  • Depth and/or color perception
  • Contrast
  • Motion detection
  • Peripheral vision

Additionally, those diagnosed with dementia may experience a distorted sense of reality in the form of illusions. For example, an individual with Alzheimer’s disease might see a shadow on the ground, and mistake it for something harmless, such as the family pet, or a danger, such as an intruder – which can present quite a challenge for family caregivers. Other examples of visual misperceptions in Alzheimer’s disease can consist of: 

  • Misinterpreting reflections in glass or mirrors for another person. This will cause distress in thinking another person is present, or thinking that a bathroom mirror reflection means the bathroom is already occupied by another person. 
  • Thinking that images on television are real and taking place in the room.
  • Difficulty with sitting in a chair or on the toilet, fearing a fall.
  • Stress in overstimulating environments that causes confusion.
  • Reaching for objects that aren’t there, or missing the mark in attempting to pick up an item.
  • Issues with self-feeding and drinking.

Here are a few strategies to help: 

  • Maintain sufficient lighting through the entire home, and remove any particular things that cause distress or visual confusion if possible. 
  • Utilize contrasting colors whenever possible, such as serving dark-colored soup in a light-colored bowl, or a fried egg on a black plate. Whenever possible, carry this concept through to home furnishings, with darker furniture on a light carpet, and differing paint colors on trim vs. walls.
  • Close blinds or curtains both at night and anytime the sun’s rays causes a glare. 
  • Make use of adaptive tools,for example, remote controls and phones with large buttons to provide the senior loved one with considerable opportunities for independence.
  • Make sure the senior has ongoing access to eye care, and notify the ophthalmologist about the senior’s dementia diagnosis. 

Our highly trained Alzheimer’s care team can help implement these tips and so much more to reduce the effects of vision problems. Contact us at (907) 677-7890 for additional information on dementia care Anchorage and the surrounding areas rely on. 

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