It has been two years since Lyn's last eye exam. When she was seen last, the doctor said the all she needed as the light reading glasses that could be found at a local pharmacy. Given that she doesn't read, he said even that was unnecessary.
Recently, she had been complaining that she was having a hard time seeing and would rub her right eye. Fortunately, her eye exam was scheduled for last week. She knew it was approaching and talked to me about how they would dilate her eyes. They did after they attempted to have her read the eye chart. She was unable to verbalize what she was seeing and subconsciously would raise her hand to try signing what she was seeing.
The technician realized fairly quickly that Lyn's responses were unreliable and the exam required her to test as though Lyn was non-verbal. While Lyn was talking and trying to participate, her confusion and susceptibility to suggestion prevented her from giving meaningful answers to the questions like "Is it easier to see with 1 or with 2?" Since "2" was the last she heard, it was the only answer she gave.
The result of the exam is that Lyn's vision has changed quite a bit in the two years since her last exam. She no longer needs light readers. She needs prescription bi-focals. She is also to come back annually instead of biennially. Visual changes are, unfortunately, common with Alzheimer's Disease. As the disease progresses, the areas of the brain which process visual information are damaged. The brain is less able to process the information coming in through the eyes. The brain is also less able to direct or focus the eyes resulting in decreased visual acuity, reduced depth perception and a reduced field of vision. (The impact to her depth perception was noticeable as we played Jenga and she needed multiple attempts to touch a block.)
Mom was more startled by the change than Lyn. Lyn saw this as an opportunity to go shopping. Mom took her to a shop so she could pick out a pair of frames. Lyn apparently has expensive tastes. Her preferred frame selection was a pair of $400 Coach frames. Mom vetoed that pair. They did find a pair that is in a more reasonable price bracket to please Mom and had enough bling to please Lyn. Mom said that every pair that Lyn tried on were sparkly. Lyn's new glasses will be ready in about a week.
Vision Aware: Alzheimer's Disease
The Importance of Innovative Sensory Activities: Exploring the Changing Sense of Sight for Individuals Living with Alzheimer's (PDF)