As nurses, we know the loss of eyesight is devastating to our patients and their families. As if that isn’t bad enough, research published by The Center for Disease Control (CDC) demonstrates that visual impairment is strongly correlated with cognitive impairment.
Visual impairment affects approximately 3.22 million persons in the United States and the number is expected to double in the next 30 years. Visual impairment is associated with social isolation, disability, and decreased quality of life. Subjective Cognitive decline (SCD)is more common in adults with visual impairment, and even more so in those who smoke. Defined as the self-reported experience of worsening or more frequent confusion or memory loss within the past 12 months, SCD affects 11.2% of adults aged ≥45 years in the United States. One consequence of SCD is the occurrence of functional limitations, especially those related to activities of daily living. It turns out, earlier research indicated that visual impairment and cognitive decline might co-occur and might be causally related. Recent studies have pointed to changes in the retina as a potential biomarker for dementia, highlighting the link between vision and cognitive impairment.
Many causes of visual impairment are treatable, such as cataracts and refractive errors, along with age-related macular degeneration, and glaucoma. Measures to prevent visual impairment and vision loss include receiving eye care and a comprehensive eye exam. Additional ways to protect eyes and prevent vision loss include knowing family history of eye health, eating a healthy diet, maintaining healthy weight, wearing protective eyewear, quitting or never starting smoking, washing hands before removing contact lens, and practicing workplace eye safety. Diabetic retinopathy is often treatable but still remains the top cause of blindness in the USA. This is a powerful motivator for us to help our patients towards better glycemic control.
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