Vision loss refers to a sudden or gradual loss of vision in one or both eyes, and in all or parts of the visual field. The number of Canadians experiencing vision loss increases with age – one in nine develops a type of irreversible vision loss by age 65, and one in four by age 75 (1).
Vision loss can impact an individual’s quality of life and their ability to do daily activities (1). When compared to people of the same age without vision problems, those living with vision loss experience double the amount of falls; quadruple the incidence of hip fractures and a twice as large mortality rate (1). Those living with vision loss are also three times more likely to experience depression than those with good vision (2).
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a disease affecting the eyes, is Canada’s leading cause of vision loss (2). Other major conditions causing vision loss include cataracts and glaucoma (2). Additionally, smoking, obesity and diabetes increase an individual’s risk of developing vision loss (1).
Three quarters of vision loss can be prevented or treated by getting an early diagnosis and creating changes in lifestyle such as wearing UV-protective glasses, controlling diabetes, exercising, getting the right amount of vitamins, maintaining a smoke-free environment, and consuming a diet high in omega-3 fatty acids and dark, leafy green vegetables (2).
If you or someone you care for is affected by vision loss, you may consider contacting these support programs:
i) The Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians (AEBC) runs a number of national programs and events, in addition to offering online discussion tools, chapters and affiliates, and direct support to those who are blind, deaf-blind and partially sighted http://www.blindcanadians.ca/programs
iii) The Canadian Helen Keller Centre provides one-on-one support/training for deaf-blind seniors and family members https://chkc.org/
iv) Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) is a national non-profit rehabilitation agency that provides services for people who are blind, visually impaired and deaf-blind http://www.cnib.ca/en/Pages/default.aspx