Changes in vision

Most people experience normal changes in vision starting at middle age. Focusing on close work, such as reading, becomes more difficult. Driving at night is challenging.

Some changes in vision, however, are signs of a more serious condition. The most common eye diseases of aging include cataracts, glaucoma, and macular degeneration. There are also vision problems associated with diabetes.

Signs of a serious problem include

  • blank spot in the center of the eye (like a piece is missing)
  • blurry or wavy vision
  • double vision
  • sensitivity to glare
  • black spots that seem to float in front of the object being viewed
  • loss of peripheral vision (side vision)

Early detection is the best way to catch and treat these conditions. If your loved one complains of any of these problems, make an appointment with an eye doctor for diagnosis. Medicare pays for diagnosis and treatment of eye diseases.

If your loved one learns that his or her eyesight is in jeopardy, expect an emotional response. Shock, grief, anger, and depression are all normal reactions. To help your relative,

  • acknowledge his or her feelings. Show that you care. Let him or her know that you understand how scary this might be.
  • treat the situation as a family problem. Assure your relative that he or she has your support. Together you will address what can be done medically. You will also work together to find solutions so your loved one can remain as independent as possible.
  • ask your eye care provider for a referral to a “low vision specialist.” If the diagnosing eye doctor is not a low vision specialist, ask for referral. A directory can be found at
  • check out assistive devices. A low vision specialist can suggest simple tools that make daily life much easier. These range from self-threading needles to stand-alone magnifying devices.