How to Recognize Vision Loss
in an Older Person
Certain behaviors indicate an individual may be experiencing a vision
loss. Be alert if a person has difficulty in the following areas:
Performing Daily Activities:
- Changes the way he or she reads, watches television, drives, walks,
or performs hobbies - or stops doing one or more of these activities.
- Squints or tilts his or her head to the side to get an object into
- Has difficulty identifying faces or objects.
- Has difficulty locating personal objects, even in familiar areas.
- Reaches out for objects in an uncertain manner.
- Has difficulty identifying colors and selects clothing in unusual
Reading and Writing
- Can no longer read the mail or a newspaper.
- Holds reading material very close to the face or at an angle.
- Writes less clearly or precisely and has difficulty writing on line.
- Finds lighting in the room inadequate for reading and other
- Brushes against the wall while walking.
- Consistently bumps into objects.
- Has difficulty walking on irregular or bumpy surfaces.
- Goes up and down the stairs slowly and cautiously, even though he or
she has no other physical limitations.
Eating and Drinking
- Has difficulty getting food onto fork.
- Has difficulty cutting food or serving from a serving plate.
- Spills food off the plate while eating.
- Pours liquids over the top of the cup.
- Knocks over liquids while reaching across the table for another
If you notice these behaviors, encourage the older person to have an
eye examination by an ophthalmologist and a low vision specialist (an
optometrist with a specialization in low vision).
Note: even if you don't notice all of these behaviors, it's
important to encourage every older person to have regular, routine eye
Last Revised: August 17, 2010