Vision loss is one of the top ten disabilities among older adults in the U.S. Visual impairment, defined as reduced visual acuity or contrast sensitivity, visual field loss, photophobia, diplopia, visual distortion, visual perceptual difficulties, or any combination of the above can dramatically impact quality of life. Aging is the number one factor correlated with an increased risk of developing low vision related chronic conditions such as age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, cataracts and diabetic retinopathy. Other factors that increase risk include gender, ethnicity, family history, smoking, exposure to UVA/UVB waves and dietary habits.
Older adults with visual impairment and low vision can experience serious disability. As a result, impaired or low vision in older adults can significantly impact independence, well-being and quality of life, and can make everyday activities seem impossible, including driving, reading the newspaper, pouring coffee/tea, cooking, getting dressed or watching television. Impaired or low vision also increases the risks for falling, and feelings of isolation and depression. Vision is an important factor in maintaining balance, depth perception, reading instructions for medications, avoiding household hazards, and preserving social relationships.