5 Behaviors That May Be Caused by Vision Changes

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By Christine BrowdyApril 14th, 2021

5 Behaviors That May Be Caused by Vision Changes

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by Christine Browdy, PAC Product Development, and Valerie Feurich, PAC Director of Marketing and Technology

As a dementia begins to change a person’s brain, first chemically then physically, a person’s perceptions of their environment will change as well. One of these perception changes is visual in nature, as the person’s field of vision will change dramatically as the disease progresses.

While everyone's peripheral vision (what we can see to our left, right, top, and bottom while looking straight ahead) reduces as we age, the changes are accelerated when dementia is involved.

Watch the video, Dementia and Vision Loss with Teepa Snow to hear Teepa talk about these vision changes. The video is an excerpt of The Progression of Dementia.

As Teepa mentioned in the clip above, these are just five situations (there could be many more) that may arise because of vision changes:

Walking slower and more cautiously

Have you noticed your person living with dementia walking differently than before? With one’s visual field diminished (take a look at the graphic below to see the vision changes by GEMS State), they may not be able to see what’s right below their feet or near them.

Losing things

Have you noticed your person living with dementia regularly losing things? In this instance, the reduced field of vision paired with immediate recall issues may be the culprit. In addition, the ability to scan a space and, in later states, recognize objects, can add to this occurrence.

Unable to see soiled clothing

Have you noticed a person living with dementia walking around with stains on their shirt, but seeming to be unaware of it? If you haven’t watched the video above or didn’t try it out, wrap your hands around your eyes like binoculars. Now, look down. Would you be able to see the stain that’s on your shirt? With the person’s visual field decreasing, one may no longer notice that it is time for a new shirt.

Unable to see things that are right in front of me

Have you noticed a person living with dementia grabbing someone else’s food when they have their own plate right in front of them? Similar to being unable to notice stains on one’s shirt, the person cannot see the plate that’s right in front of them.

Getting startled easily

Is your person living with dementia startled easily? Shape your hands into binoculars again, and imagine how you would feel if someone approached you from your side or back? Chances are, you’d get startled too. So instead of approaching from behind, make sure you’re in their visual field (realize that it may be a lot smaller than you think). In addition, try adding in some visual and verbal cues to give the person a chance to notice that you are near.


One Comment on “5 Behaviors That May Be Caused by Vision Changes”

  1. I was curios as to whether any studies have been done to see if there was a Glaucoma/dementia connection. From the details from my ophthalmologist, a lot is still not understood about Glaucoma, but one thing has been determined, that it is not an eye disease, but a neurological disease. I just wondered if there was any connection between the two. Seems more is not understood about Glaucoma than what is known.
    Thank you.

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