Managing Visual Impairment and Blindness

Managing Visual Impairment and Blindness

As with many of the other senses, sight can get worse with age. Putting aside other forms of blindness and focusing on the issues older people develop, 

Leading causes of blindness and sight loss in the elderly:

Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD): This is very common and is just a result of getting old. The central part of the retina (the back of the eye) which leads to blurred vision and distortion. The most controllable causes of this are smoking and hypertension and poor diet.

Glaucoma: Glaucoma is a condition that prevents fluid from leaving the eye, leading to a build-up of pressure, which damages the optical nerve. This cause loss of sight that gets worse over time. It is linked to genetics and often affected by people of African descent and those with diabetes. It can be treated with eye drops, surgery to reduce the pressure in the eye or laser surgery.

Cataract: A cataract is the clouding of the eye’s lense, nuclear cataracts are commonly caused by ageing. They can be treated with laser eye surgery.

Preventing sight and sight loss in the elderly

It is recommended that people over the age of 65 go for annual eye tests to spot signs early so that both the causes and symptoms can be managed proactively.

Eye tests are free from SpecSavers and a number of other high street retailers. They and others also offer an at-home service, which you can call in about at any time.

Managing sight and sight loss in the elderly

When dealing or speaking with a blind person you must try to put yourself in how they might feel so here’s some information that may help you both to feel comfortable chatting.

  • Talk directly to the person who is blind in a normal tone of voice. The fact that he cannot see is no indication that he cannot hear well.
  • Do not bring attention to a person who is blind or visually impaired when they are performing typical activities such as using a telephone, checking their watch, or writing his name in longhand.
  • Never assume that a blind person needs or even wants assistance. Ask, “May I be of help?” or “There’s water in the centre of the table, would you like me to pour a glass for you?” Speak in a normal, friendly tone.
  • Never grab a blind person’s arm when offering assistance. Instead, permit her to take your arm so that your moves can be anticipated.
  • When walking with someone who is blind or visually impaired, proceed at a normal pace. Hesitate slightly before stepping up or down.
  • Be explicit in giving directions. Pointing does not help, and avoid using words such as “over there,” or “that way.” Use “right” or “left” according to the way he is facing, compass directions or the position of the hands-on a clock, i.e., “the doorway is at 3 o’clock.”
  • Do not avoid using descriptive words that refer to sight such as “Nice to see you” or “You look lovely today.”
  • Identify yourself to a blind person so she knows of your presence. “Hello Sam, it’s Pam.” Never ask a blind person to guess who you are by your voice or touch.
  • Shake hands when you meet or leave a blind person. A cordial handshake substitutes for a friendly smile.
  • Never leave a person who is blind in an open area. Before leaving, ask if you may guide them to the side of a room or to a chair or other landmark.
  • When you leave the presence of someone who is blind or visually impaired, either quietly inform them that you are leaving or say “Tom, it was nice speaking with you, I’m leaving now.” This prevents the person who is blind or visually impaired from speaking to an empty chair.
  • When dining in a restaurant with someone who is blind or visually impaired, ask if they would like you to read the menu. When you do read the menu, always include the price of each item. When dining, offer to identify the items being served, and once again, identify their placement using the face of a clock, “The wine glass is at one o’clock.”

They are automatically eligible to apply for a Blue Badge without further assessment if you are registered blind (severely sight impaired). They are eligible to apply if you are registered as partially sighted (sight impaired) but this is not automatically without an assessment.

Aids for blind or partially sighted people 

There are plenty of different aids to assist with blind or partially sighted people if you go to shop.rnib.org.uk you can see all sorts of aids to help with your everyday life for all ages from mobility aids to talking clocks.

We also have the guide dogs who are an essential part of some people’s lives and there are also assistance dogs both always have a long waiting list for them. The pages also cover the laws and the Equality Act 2010 covering the acceptance of the guide dog. 

There is alot of much information and help online, with gifts and ways in which you can help to support charities too:

  • www.guidedogs.org.uk   
  • www.assistancedogs.org.uk/
  • www.kidshealth.org/en/kids/visual-impaired.html
  • www.nhs.uk/conditions/vision-loss/
  • www.rnib.org.uk/who-we-are/action-for-blind-people
    http://www.look-uk.org/
  • www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-body/living-with-low-vision/
  • www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-published-on-registering-a-vision-impairment-as-a-disability
  • www.livingmadeeasy.org.uk/communication/vision-3621/
  • myageingparent.com/life/care-life/how-to-register-the-elderly-as-disabled/