Home Designs For Life: Remodeling Ideas To Increase Safety, Function, And Accessibility In The Home.

Episode 31: Common Eye Problems In Older Adults: Part 1 of 3 Part Series

November 08, 2022 Janet Engel, OT/L, CAPS Season 3 Episode 31
Home Designs For Life: Remodeling Ideas To Increase Safety, Function, And Accessibility In The Home.
Episode 31: Common Eye Problems In Older Adults: Part 1 of 3 Part Series
Show Notes Transcript

Vision changes is one of the first declines we experience with the onset of aging. Visual impairment can occur as early as 35-40 years of age.

The best way to ward off more serious eye problems is through early detection by a doctor. Visual impairment accounts for one out of the four leading causes for falls in older adults.

The other 3 causes are taking medications incorrectly, hazards in your home, and decreased strength/muscle weakness.

Falls are the leading cause for hospitalizations and death in people 65 and older. Therefore, it is paramount that we as a society take the necessary steps to address these 4 factors.


Full Article: https://homedesignsforlife.com/common-eye-problems-in-older-adults/

Support the show

https://homedesignsforlife.com/

homedesignsforlife@gmail.com

Common Eye Problems in Older Adults

[00:00:00] Hello everyone, and thank you for being with me. Today's episode is going to be about common eye problems in older adults. In fact, I am creating a three part episode that is going to touch on this subject. And what inspired me to create this three part series is my recent trip to High Point Market in North Carolina.

It was a lot of fun. It was my first time ever going to the event, and I met lots of wonderful, interesting people, especially interior designers. And I had the opportunity to have a few very interesting conversations with designers about how our vision changes as we get older and how designers should be looking at how they [00:01:00] should change their design for these deficits that we experience and changes that we experience as we get older.

So our vision changes are one of the first declines to happen with the onset of aging. Visual impairment can occur as early as between the ages of 35 and 40. Unbelievable, right? 35 is so young, but actually our vision peaks around the age of 30. The best way to ward off more serious eye problems is through early detection by a doctor.

Visual impairment accounts for one of the four leading causes for falls in older adults. The other three causes are taking medications incorrectly, hazards in your home, and decrease strength [00:02:00] or muscle weakness. So, as I said, falls are the leading cause for hospitalizations and death in people age 65 and older.

Therefore, it is paramount for us to take this problem seriously and address all of these factors that I just mentioned. So first I'm gonna go into how does age affect our color percept? Well, as we age, it's not uncommon for our color perception to change. This is usually due to a reduction in the number of cones in the retina, which are responsible for color vision.

As a result, you may find it more difficult to distinguish between certain colors such as blue and green, and they may also appear duller than they were. So what colors are harder for older people to. One common change that happens with age is [00:03:00] that people have a harder time seeing specific or certain colors.

This is because the retina, which is uh, located in the back part of the eye, gets thinner and less sensitive to light as we age, as a result. Older people often have trouble distinguishing between certain colors, especially blues and greens. As a result, older people often have trouble distinguishing between certain colors, especially between blues and greens.

Do color preferences change with age? Yes. So older people tend to prefer warmer hues as opposed to cool tones, monochromatic designs, which refers to designs that have very few colors. For example, if you do a combination of white and. That would be a monochromatic design. They are more difficult for the aging eye to discern [00:04:00] as are pale colors, especially in the blue and green tones.

So now that we've talked about colors and how we perceive colors differently as we age because of changes that happen in the retina. We are going to talk about figure ground. So figure ground is a term that we use often in occupational therapy. The way that we use it is it refers to being able to distinguish one object amongst many objects.

For example, in your bathroom drawer, when you open your bathroom drawer and. You're looking for, let's say your brush, well, you probably have quite a few other items in there. And so that is figure ground, being able to distinguish your brush or your comb from, let's say your toothpaste or [00:05:00] uh, makeup, you know, or dental floss.

So figure ground is also. Used in Gestalt theory. So let me go back to another definition of what figure ground is. So when we look at an object, our brain is constantly trying to figure out what it is and where it is in relation to everything else around it. This process is known as figure ground.

Figure ground perception is when two areas in a person's visual field share a border. Figure ground is also, as I said earlier, one of the Gestalt Principles of perception, which states that our minds will tend to group together similar objects or elements [00:06:00] into patterns or wholes. This principle helps us to see the world in a way that makes sense and is easy to understand.

How does figure ground affect what we see? Well figure ground. Perception and relationship, that's what we must go into next. So one of the first cognitive functions to develop in young babies is figure ground perception. Figure ground perception is where the brain takes information from the environment such as color, motion cues, and shape to register an object and distinguish the figure from the background.

This skill has evolutionary benefits including finding food, recognizing familiar faces, and recognizing a threat in the environment [00:07:00] such as a snake on the ground. So now I'm going to explain figure ground concept. Figure ground concept is a cognitive function that allows a person to direct their attention to the figure rather than its background.

For example, when I look at black font on white paper, it grabs my eye much more so than if there were no contrast between these two colors and shapes, such as green words against blue paper because the colors are too similar. Now I'm going to discuss inhibition, which is another concept that is occurring in the brain and also changes as we age.

The decline in inhibition that occurs with age can make staying on [00:08:00] topic more difficult for older adults than for younger people. Research indicates that a decline in inhibition also affects visual perception. Meaning an older person will take longer to see and process everything around them because these mental capabilities start slowing down with age.

Visual perception is influence not only by what we see, but also the alternatives that our brain considers the process of visualization. Object. The process of visualizing objects in space requires more than just eye movement. It involves inhibiting other thoughts or ideas while focusing on one object at a time, a process that declines with age, with regard to vision, age related declines in the [00:09:00] efficiency of inhibitory process.

Have been demonstrated in research involving simple perception tasks, such as the ability to detect symmetry and discriminate between shapes. For example, discriminating between a square and a rectangle. However, sometimes our brain can trick us into seeing things that aren't really there. This is because our brains are constantly trying to fill in the gaps and make sense of what we're seeing.

Optical illusions are a good example of how figure ground can trick our brains. This is particularly interesting as it suggests that distraction is being processed extremely rapidly and without conscious awareness. But that older adults [00:10:00] are less able to tolerate this ambiguity than younger adults.

This research may have practical importance for how perception changes with age as well, particularly in situations of low visibility. Possibly in fog, bad light, bad lighting, or in rooms where you have poor contrast. When the identity of shapes is harder to discern, our perception is going to be affected, and as we get older, this is going to become more significant.

The researchers believe that age related inhibitory deficits are due to reduce functioning of the GABA neurotransmitters in the brain. GABA neurotransmitters help control fear and anxiety when neurons become overexcited, such as in stressful [00:11:00] situations. However, more research is needed to be done in this area in order to come to a sound conclusion.

So now I am going to transition into what colors are best for the aging eye. So as we age, as I said earlier, our eyesight changes. We may not be able to see as clearly or as vividly as we did when we were younger. Colors may seem more dull and it can be harder to distinguish between similar colors.

There are a few ways to make the most out of our aging eyesight. One is by choosing colors that are easier for the aging eye to see. So some good colors to consider would be bright, bold colors, high contrast colors, colors with a lot of red gold or orange because [00:12:00] these colors are easier for the aging eye to distinguish.

Due to the natural yellowing of the lens as we age. So yes, unfortunately that is something else that happens to our vision as we get older, is that the lens naturally becomes yellow, and we have proteins that are creating this change and oxidization in the lens, which is giving us kind of like this fluorescent.

Um, hue and that in turn affects how we see the world. So using contrast in your design can help reduce falls. Isn't that amazing? Well, it's true. Contrasting colors can help make obstacles more visible, making it less likely that someone will trip and. Color contrast can also help us [00:13:00] function better in our home, which is a key part of maintaining independence as we age with our activities of daily living, such as bathing, dressing, grooming, and most importantly, toilet hygiene.

So next time you're designing a space, keep contrast in mind. It could end up making a big difference in safety and how you function in your. Colors can also significantly impact moods, and choosing the right scheme can go a long way in keeping you or someone you care for, comfortable and happy in their space.

As we age, unfortunately our eyesight usually deteriorates. This is due to the natural aging process and is not usually a cause for concern. However, there are some eye problems that are more common in older adults [00:14:00] and can lead to serious vision impairment and if left untreated, so that is where we're going to conclude our episode four today.

Please. Tune into our next episode. That is the second part of this series, Common Eye Diseases or Common Eye Problems in older Adults. And in the second part, I'm going to be discussing specific diseases of the eye. So please stay tuned. Thank you for listening and spending time with me. I hope you have a beautiful day.