With women being 50% more likely to develop a visual impairment than men, you should be aware of all early signs of an eye sight loss. Early signs can often be easily ignored or justified as being caused by other things. Many people who begin to experience problems with their vision will explain it away as being a result of being too tired, poor lighting or just needing to update their prescription. The assumption that with age comes visual impairment is not accurate. Age related macular degeneration does occur in everyone but for most people, if you spot the early signs of visual impairment due to age related degeneration it is easy to do something about it. Your real concern is when the early signs are actually indicators of an underlying and potentially serious condition that has yet to be detected.
Here are some common early signs of visual impairment. Everyone will experience some of these occasionally, if you have two or more of these symptoms occurring for more than two weeks, you should make an appointment for an eye exam and a physical exam as well.
• Sitting closer to the TV or leaning forward while driving
• Using brighter colors
• Straining to focus or squinting
• Unable to find items in the house
• Clothing doesn't match
• Problems with balance
• Bumping into things
• General clumsiness – knocking over items, spilling food, tripping or stumbling on uneven surfaces
• Difficulty with simple hand-eye coordination tasks such as eating with a fork or spoor, threading a needle or using a screwdriver
• Having to hold items closer than usual to be able to read them
• Trouble writing on lined paper
• Increasingly sloppy handwriting
• Complaints about lighting levels being too low
The American Academy of Ophthalmology (aao.org) recommends that you have a baseline vision exam when you are in your early 40s even if you have no history of vision trouble. This provides you with something to measure changes against so you and your doctor can determine the seriousness of any developing complaints over the years.
There are many conditions that are associated with companion vision impairment that you need to be aware of. If any of these conditions exist within your family history, or you have been told you are at risk for developing them – changes in your vision may provide you with the earliest clue as to whether you need to have a physical exam and tests done. I personally take any eye-related injury very seriously, and whenever any of my children gets something in his/her eyes (in most cases, while the siblings are fighting), I go as far as to call up a GP home immediately if it's after hours (and regular GP is closed). I live in Melbourne and mostly use Home Doctor Australia's service, you can too check them up here.
Conditions that can cause vision impairment include:
• Type 2 diabetes
• Skin Cancer
• Retinal detachment
The two conditions on the list that are most surprising to people is who the early signs of visual impairment can also be indicators of skin cancer or Alzheimer’s. With skin cancer, there may be changes in the texture or thickness of the skin of the eyelids or around the eyes that is interfering with vision. Recent studies have also shown that one of the earliest indicators of Alzheimer’s is a change in color perception, especially depth perception as related to color. All of these conditions can be managed well if detected early enough.