Dementia, Alzheimer’s and Eyesight
When we look around, what we see is actually light stimuli reflected off everything around us, entering our eyes and being converted into usable information by the brain. Our eyes are continually collecting data from the environment, and our brains are continually interpreting it for us. This is known as visual perception, or how the brain makes sense of what the eyes see.
As we grow older, the aging process causes changes in our eyes and our brains. Eye diseases like glaucoma, cataracts, macular degeneration, and others affect the visual information that reaches the brain. Getting insufficient or incorrect visual data can contribute to developing cognitive and memory problems, or even dementia.
On the other hand, changes in the brain due to dementia or Alzheimer’s disease can affect the way our brain processes visual information, altering our perception of the world and our ability to understand it.
When our perception and understanding of the world is altered, it can lead to anxiety, confusion, or even unusual and seemingly incomprehensible behaviors that can leave loved ones and caregivers disoriented, confused, perplexed, and frustrated.
Medical conditions such as cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration, or diabetes may aggravate perception difficulties, bringing changes such as blurred vision, slowed adjustment to light, reduced peripheral vision, and a decline in the ability to recognize distance and three-dimensional objects.
Different types of dementia can damage the vision system in diverse ways. Common difficulties include less sensitivity to contrast between objects and background, diminished ability to detect movement, reduced color sensitivity, and reduced depth perception.