Four signs a senior citizen is starting to lose their eyesight

  • Seniors
  • Saturday, 19 Aug 2023

Frequent squinting is a giveaway sign that an older person might be losing their eyesight. — Filepic

Almost everyone’s vision becomes poorer in old age.

Vision loss is even greater when an eye disease is involved.

If glaucoma isn’t detected and treated in time, for instance, blindness can result.

ALSO READ: This disease is known as the 'silent thief of sight'

So if you look after older people, or otherwise interact with them regularly, you should be aware of signs of vision loss.

The German Federation of the Blind and Partially Sighted (DBSV) points to four things in particular to look for:

> Outward appearance

Becoming uncharacteristically unkempt can be one warning sign.

If the person no longer sees as well, they might not notice the large stain on their sweater, for example.

Or that their blouse and trousers clash in colour or pattern, or that their hair isn’t neatly combed.

> Behaviour changes

Changes in a person’s behaviour that at first may suggest depression or dementia may in fact be due to vision loss.

For example, an inexplicable disinterest in accustomed activities such as reading, doing crossword puzzles or watching television – because it’s harder to make out the words or images.

ALSO READ: Depression may present differently in older adults

Withdrawal or sudden mistrust of familiar people are further signs.

> Unsteady gait

Walking hesitantly and unsteadily, and seeking security in the vicinity of walls, can indicate deteriorating eyesight as well.

The same goes for avoiding walks, particularly on sunny days, as many eye diseases make the eyes very sensitive to glare.

> No eye contact

Another sign: If the person looks past you during a conversation – can’t maintain eye contact, in other words.

Many people with vision problems also squint a lot to help focus.

If you suspect that an older person – your father perhaps, or a neighbour – can no longer see well, it’s important to get them to see an ophthalmologist as soon as possible, the DBSV says.

It recommends broaching the subject delicately and preparing the conversation carefully.

The person will naturally be sensitive about their vision loss – anxiety and a feeling of helplessness are common – and might be offended and become angry or withdrawn if you just bluntly report your observations. – dpa

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Eyesight , eyes , senior health


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