Eyesight and Dementia..

Charlie

Registered User
Apr 1, 2003
161
Hi All,

I've read the factsheets and a few articles on the RNIB site about the problems with eyesight and dementia. However, I'm really concerned how bad dads sight has become recently. We had prescription glasses made up to help him eat (i.e. so he could at least see the food in front of him), but these now seem little use.

Has anyone had any professional advice on the progression of eyesight problems with dementia. It just seems relatively sudden. Dad's peripheral vision is almost completely lost and he seems to be relying on touch so much more. Hard enough to handle if you don't have dementia, but a nightmare if you do.

thanks
Charlie...
 

Brucie

Registered User
Jan 31, 2004
12,413
near London
Hi Charlie

it seems an area that never gets mentioned, except by a few of us. The doctors don't seem geared up to it at all.

it is also one of the really awful things when it happens to someone with dementia. Jan drifted from contact lenses to spectacles, then one day she was clearly getting no benefit from them either, so we took them away.

now, to see her as she has been reduced, and sightless too... dreadful, awful.
 

Lynne

Registered User
Jun 3, 2005
3,433
Suffolk,England
Difficult to tell ...

My Mum had 2 ops. to remove cataracts from her eyes about 18 months ago.

It doesn't seem to me as if any improvement was achieved, even after she had a sight test & consequent new prescription specs. after the setting-down period.

Prior to the ops., she only wore glasses for reading. Now the optician says she really shoudl be wearing them all the time as she has age-related macular degeneration (1 pr reading, 1 pr distance) but she won't do that. "I've never needed glasses apart from reading" is her stance on it, and she won't consider that things have changed with her eyes. Similarly her hearing has got much worse in the last year. She was given a hearing aid about 3 years ago, but never persevered with it; often she "couldn't find it", or the battery had gone flat because she had left it switched on (even though not wearing it). Now of course, she's REALLY lost it. I've searched the house for so many other things lately I would have come across it - she's been going through a phase of 'putting things in a safe place' and then :eek: forgetting where that safe place was. I fear the hearing aid was put 'safely' in the dustbin!

Difficult to tell whether her lack of co-operation was stubborness - a family trait I have inherited, unfortunately - or early signs of AD. Next time I/we see the doctor, I'll ask him if he knows of a possible link with failing eyesight or hearing.
 

cynron

Registered User
Sep 26, 2005
429
east sussex
Eyesight

My husband is always wiping his eyes as they water a lot . Optician said to see the doc as he could have a blocked tear duct. Have not seen the doctor yet.We have a 10 mile round trip each time!!

Cynron :mad:
 

jc141265

Registered User
Sep 16, 2005
836
45
Australia
The nature of sight

Dad isn't blind but something definetly goes awry with some people's eyesight when they have dementia or at least something goes wrong with their brain's ability to 'see' the messages that the eyes send.

I saw a programme on tv once that explored various kinds of brain damage and two people in it stuck in my head. One was a fellow who completely lost the ability to recognise faces although he could see everything else, apparently facial recognition is a separate process where our brain puts together the eyes, noses and mouth features and makes comparisons easier for us, something we take for granted. Another lady had damage to her brain that caused her to see things in chunks, like an old fashioned flick, one frame at a time. So she would see a moving train as, a series of pictures, one as a train in the distance, one as it was closer, one as it went past and one from behind, not as a fluid progression. This made walking for her very difficult and nasueating especially if many things were moving around her. Long before Dad lost the ability to communicate he no longer could 'see' television images despite being able to see things of comparative size.

As I've said before he is also unable to recognise the difference between a reflection and a real person. He appears to have depth perception problems at times too and used to be extremely pre-occupied with marks on tables or patterns, touching them like he was trying to figure out what they were, were they flat or were they three dimensional.

I think its useful to get an understanding of this because it makes some behaviours that seem bizarre, a little more logical. Dad used to yell like crazy when you took him anywhere in a car for example, perhaps the images he was seeing were coming at him too fast?? Shadows too seem to peturb him. Understanding Dad's problems with sight has made his anger and often looks of terror far more understandable, you realise that they are not yelling at you, that you aren't doing anything wrong they are just seeing the world in a different way that can scare the heck out of them.
 

connie

Registered User
Mar 7, 2004
9,519
Frinton-on-Sea
Have to agree with the depth perception thought. Lionel cannot determine where his tablets are, i.e. if I put them in my hand for him to take, or if I put them on the table beside him with a glass.

His eyes water constantly nowdays, seen doctor & opticion. Nothing wrong, maybe side effect from medication. His nose is always running too. Connie
 

Canadian Joanne

Volunteer Moderator
Apr 8, 2005
16,235
65
Toronto, Canada
My mother has cataracts in both eyes & we finally saw the specialist 2 weeks ago (6 month wait for eye specialists - is it that bad in the UK?). We've decided not to have the cataracts removed based on what he said.

He said & I quote "It could marginally improve her quality of life". But it would have required a general anesthetic (which in itself could create enormous problems for us - it's bad for AD patients), she would have been required to keep her (dirty) hands away from her eyes during the healing process, and the op might or might not work. The doc did say that since Mum doesn't drive (HA!), read, watch TV or anything like that, it wasn't really worth it.

So my sister & I decided not to go for the operation. Plus, realistically, it's not like she's going to live another 20 or 25 years & to put her through that trauma just isn't worth it.

I did read somewhere that Alzheimer's does affect the manner in which visual (or all data, for that matter) is interpreted by the brain. This makes perfect sense as the brain is being damaged. And of course, since the disease is so individual, the damage is also & so we have all the different problems.

Joanne
 

Stimpfig

Registered User
Oct 15, 2005
135
Germany/India
Hi Joanne

I am 43 and just went through (On October 12th) an operation for removal of cataract. :cool: I have had 4 previous surgical treatments for retinal detachment. Since I have been through the operation myself, I can say that modern technology has indeed simplified the procedure to an enormous extent. Most other patients who were operated that day were in their eighties and one lady was 91. The procedure itself last 20 minutes but yes, you need to ensure that the eye doesn`t get infected and surely, there are special kinds of protection guaze or whatever that are used for children that can be used for the elderly as well.

Sue Stimpfig
 

Canadian Joanne

Volunteer Moderator
Apr 8, 2005
16,235
65
Toronto, Canada
Hi Sue,
Yes, I realize the op itself is very quick & simple. However, my mother would require a general anesthetic because she wouldn't even sit still in the examination room. So she could not be still for the procedure itself or she would have to be so rigidly strapped down it would become a major trauma for her. Then general anesthesia really confuses AD patients (like I need more of confusion). And although I'm sure they would have a dressing etc., my mother is always picking at things, her skin, objects etc. She still can see so in our case, we decided it was better to leave things as they are.
Joanne
 

Norman

Registered User
Oct 9, 2003
4,348
Birmingham Hades
Hi here is a post I made some time back.
I think the condition is worse now sounds like another one that Connie and I share
Norman

Took Peg for her appointment with the optician today.
He was brilliant,kind patient and very helpful,clued up on AD.
Peg was able to read some letters that I had trouble with with my glasses!!
To sum up no eye problems as such but problems focusing caused by AD causing wrong signals from the brain.
This was at 2.0PM and he explained that as Peg got tired towards evening the focusing problems would increase.
Norman

ps arked outside the optician's on double yellow lines,3 cheers for the blue badge!!!

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 

Sandy

Registered User
Mar 23, 2005
6,847
Hi Joanne,

Just to let you know that we faced exactly the same dilemma with my father-in-law who is 84 and has myeloma as well as AD. We also reached the same conclusion, after talking it over as a family and with the GP.

Take care,

Sandy
 

Sheila

Registered User
Oct 23, 2003
2,259
West Sussex
Hi all, Norms post echos exactly the situation I had with my Mum. I was told much the same. That the signals to the brain can go a bit awry, especially when they are tired or stressed. It was also worse when ever Mum had a chest or urine infection I found. Strange isn't it? Love She. XX
 

jc141265

Registered User
Sep 16, 2005
836
45
Australia
Double vision

Something else I've noticed, and was wondering if anyone else had seen it too...

Dad at times appears to have his two eyes looking at different things??? One will be looking at me while the other will quite obviously be looking at the ceiling or behind me. Perhaps this also causes the depth perception problems, I know you need the vision of two eyes a lot of the time to perceive depth.

Let me know if this happens with anyone else, or whether you think this is unique to Dad.
 

Brucie

Registered User
Jan 31, 2004
12,413
near London
Nat said:
Dad at times appears to have his two eyes looking at different things??? One will be looking at me while the other will quite obviously be looking at the ceiling or behind me.

Let me know if this happens with anyone else, or whether you think this is unique to Dad.
Jan has exactly this. Very disconcerting and she had/has such lovely eyes.

Originally, in the last 6 months she was at home [2001], she would complain of problems with her left eye, so we went to a consultant who diagnosed a large 'floater'. He said there was nothing that could be done. This eye was one that Jan had gone blind in, temporarily, in 1966 when she had a clot behind the retina. I had just started going out with her then and was heartily glad when the clot was dispersed at hospital! No problems thereafter.

In the past 3 years, her eyes have diverged. The left one is partly closed as well - I think her seizures hit her left side primarily.

I have tried to see if one or other eye can see anything, but no luck. I think she sees differences in light, but no focus.

Just another horror for us. :(
 

jc141265

Registered User
Sep 16, 2005
836
45
Australia
Another weird thing...

The left one is partly closed as well
Hey my Dad's left...or is that right....his right eye, which I call his left eye from my perspective (reminds me of a 30 year old debate we have with mum over which side of the fridge she was talking about :p )...is droopy and always has tears running from it that I hope is just watery not real tears....

But your post reminded me of something else about Dad's eyes...they change colour...the colour in them appears to be fading as I have seen in a lot of old people's eyes BUT also the colour of his eyes change day to day. I have eyes that appear to change colour because I have a big yellow centre around my pupil and then a little bit of blue on the outside, depending on how dark it is my eyes get bluer, greener when my pupil is small. HOWEVER, dad has always had browny hazel eyes but now somedays they are the same bluish green as mine??? Anyone seen this phenomena?
 

Kriss

Registered User
May 20, 2004
513
Shropshire
Dad never seemed to have eyesight problems but Aunt went though a period 18 months ago when she appeared to go almost blind (had to feel her way along walls etc). Eventually she saw a specialist but the hardest thing about reading the letters from the chart was getting her to follow the instructions given e.g. "read the 4th line from the left". She definitely didn't get the instructions right but managed to read even the smallest letters on the bottom line!

The verdict was that it was all about the signals from the eyes not being processed through to the brain. Oddly enough once she had been to the specialist we have never witnessed any more problems...

Kriss
 

Norman

Registered User
Oct 9, 2003
4,348
Birmingham Hades
This optician was familiar with AD and Aricept etc





Norman said:
Hi here is a post I made some time back.
I think the condition is worse now sounds like another one that Connie and I share
Norman

Took Peg for her appointment with the optician today.
He was brilliant,kind patient and very helpful,clued up on AD.
Peg was able to read some letters that I had trouble with with my glasses!!
To sum up no eye problems as such but problems focusing caused by AD causing wrong signals from the brain.
This was at 2.0PM and he explained that as Peg got tired towards evening the focusing problems would increase.
Norman

ps arked outside the optician's on double yellow lines,3 cheers for the blue badge!!!

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 

BeckyJan

Registered User
Nov 28, 2005
18,972
Derbyshire
eyes watering

cynron said:
My husband is always wiping his eyes as they water a lot . Optician said to see the doc as he could have a blocked tear duct. Have not seen the doctor yet.We have a 10 mile round trip each time!!

Cynron :mad:
I have experienced exactly the same thing this morning - my husband had eye test as he thought his eyes were deteriorating Nothing changed with eye test but constantly his eyes were watering. Referred to GP for blocked tear ducts! Will let you know when and if we get it sorted.