Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Low Vision Rehabilitation for the Elderly

            As older adults age it is quite a common occurrence for them to experience changes in their vision. What was once may have appeared clear is now blurry. These older adults might take this as a sign that they need to get their glasses changed.  However, for some individuals this vision loss is more severe and cannot be corrected by glasses or contacts. In older adults, macular degeneration is an age related disease that destroys one’s central vision, leading to low vision (Medline Plus).  A new specialty of occupational therapy is looking to teach individuals with low vision how they can improve their engagement in occupations such as reading and writing.

            Low vision can greatly affect how one can perform daily activities such as reading, writing, and even dressing. Being unable to perform these significant daily tasks could be devastating to an older adult. Therefore, a new occupational therapy intervention program is seeking to introduce tools and exercises that can assist them through these occupations.

            The occupational therapist can provide patients with low vision exercises that can help to improve the accuracy and speed of their reading. Therapists can also suggest devices such as certain magnifying glasses that can help these individuals be more successful at reading and also show them how to properly use the devices. By improving their participation in such occupations, the program promotes independence and can raise the individuals overall sense of well being. This area of occupational therapy is relatively new but very promising in helping older adults live with and improve their vision problems.

Marowitz, M. (2006). Occupational therapy interventions in low vision rehabilitation. Canadian Journal of Ophthalmology, 41, 340-347.

Medline Plus. Macular degeneration. Retrieved 29 April 2009. 

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