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Identifying signs of vision impairment in adults and children

Author: Sharon Freeman
Published: Jul 28 2013

For anyone who has never experienced any vision loss, it may seem that a person should easily be able to identify vision loss for himself or herself. However, most healthy adults do not seek assistance for vision, which they suspect is worsening until there is a physical, social or psychological symptom that begins to affect daily life.

Aging adults and young children often experience vision impairment without realising fully what is happening to them. They will need an external party to identify the problem and suggest any means of correction.

Reasons Why Aging Adults Do Not Realise They Are Suffering from Vision Impairment

The changes that occur during vision impairment are often subtle and happens over a great deal of time. It may take 10 years for a person's vision to affect daily life.

Vision is something likely to change in an aging adult in unexpected and surprising ways. For example, many adults who wear glasses during their entire lives find themselves suddenly in need of only reading glasses during their later years, as the shape of the aging eye changes through gravity and natural wear and tear.

This changes the manner how the light hits the eye and the angles between the pupil and the lens, distorting the image or perhaps making it clearer. All these changes can be confusing or simply neglected by an aging adult, especially one who has lost some independence and mental clarity.

Reasons Why Children Do Not Realise They Are Suffering from Vision Impairment?

For children, it is generally a bit more obvious why they do not realise they are suffering from vision impairment. In short, most children have never known any different when it comes to vision unless their vision impairment was caused by somewhat singular incidents like an illness or accident.

Parents, teachers and caretakers often misdiagnose poor vision in children assuming everything from behavioural disorders to learning disabilities before checking a child's vision or hearing. Impairment in both or one of these areas can make basic communication and learning impossible for a small child.

How to Recognise an Aging Adult or Child Suffering from Vision Impairment

The statistics are skewed in the direction of aging adults for the demographic. With the most cases of severe visual impairment, 70% of all cases falling into the group of adults over 80 years of age. However, the signs and symptoms are often similar for both aging adults and children, so wary family members should be on the lookout for the following:

- Trouble walking and placing one’s feet, especially on uneven ground or steps.

- Reading or identifying far-away letters, words, people or simple objects.

- Recognising other people by their faces.

- Difficulty following actions such as a conversation, movie, games or participating in sports.

- Bumping into things.

How to Help Adults and Children to Correct Vision Impairment

Both aging adults and young children should be screened regularly for vision impairment. A good recommendation is every once to two years.

This is the fastest and easiest means to identify a problem. The best solution or combination of solutions can then be determined between the individual, the caretaker, and the medical professional. The means of reparation depend greatly on the cause of the vision loss but can range from simple solutions such as eyeglasses and contact lenses to more drastic solutions such as surgery.

Aging adults are also more likely to be suffering from age related conditions such as cataracts or glaucoma, and may need to employ a combination of solutions such as medications, eyeglasses and dietary changes.

Sharon Freeman is a professional freelancer who writes about eye health, eyeglasses and about companies like Paul Taylor Eyewear

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