What Is Visual Impairment?

Visual impairment is ranked third behind arthritis and heart disease as the most common condition causing a need for assistance with activities of daily living for persons 70 years and older. It is, however, often overlooked in the home care setting when treating patients for other conditions.

(Source: A caregiver’s eye on elders with low vision (abstract). Warnecke P. (Care, 2003 Jan;22(1):12-5.)

Also called low vision, it is defined as loss of eyesight that cannot be corrected with glasses, medicine, or surgery. It makes everyday tasks such as reading, shopping, recognizing faces, and even crossing the street difficult. Some signs to look for that may indicate visual impairment are:

  • slowness in responding or moving
  • confusion in environments with low contrast or low lighting
  • confusion with faces and identifying people
  • difficulty locating objects that are small or low contrast
  • difficulty paying attention
  • avoiding activities requiring good vision
  • making mistakes in tasks that have small details (i.e. taking wrong medicine)
  • fear of falling

(Source: Mary Warren, MS, OTR/L SCLV, FAOTA (University of Alabama at Birmingham)

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