By Bob DeMarco
+Alzheimer's Reading Room
Bifocals are eyeglasses with two distinct optical powers. You look out the top for distance, and out the bottom to read. They improve your vision and allow you to do things like drive an automobile and read.
When I arrived in Delray Beach to care for my mother I took her to the eye doctor for a check up, and then bought her new eye glasses. Bifocals.
Dotty used the glasses to read the newspaper, to do crossword puzzles, and to watch television.
Then one day I noticed she was watching TV without her glasses. I asked her to read the scroll that was going across the bottom of the TV and she did it. I was surprised.
The next morning I asked her to read the newspaper without her glasses. She did it without missing a beat.
I was pleasantly surprised. But then I started wondering - why did Dotty's vision improve.
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To be honest, I thought it must be genetic. But why did it take 90 years for it to happen?
I should add, I wore glasses to drive and see longer distances for about 39 years. I never wore eye glasses to read.
Then all of a sudden my eyes started improving. I couldn't see the blackboard without eye glasses when I was in eighth grade. Now I can drive during the day, and watch television without eye glasses. I don't need any correction at all in my right eye. And only the lowest strength correction in my left eye.
Why? Genetic? I think so.
The question remained, why did it take Dotty until she was 90 years old to stop needing eye glasses to correct her vision?
Was it all the Vitamin D she was receiving from out daily outings into bright light and from the sun?
I think I might have found the answer. Researchers have found that vitamin D reduces the effects of ageing in mouse eyes and improves the vision of older mice significantly - Vitamin D could combat the effects of ageing in eyes.
For those of you that have been here for a while you already know that I believe one of the most important things you can do as an Alzheimer's caregivers is get the patient out and into bright light as least 4 or five times a week.
I noticed that bright light seemed to improve Dotty's mood and behavior? It clearly helped make her happier and easier to deal with each day. That explains my rationale.
- Dementia, Observation, Bunkhouse Logic, Bright Light
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I also learned that older people commonly suffer from a lack of sufficient vitamin D - Vitamin D and the Elderly. I also learned that Low Vitamin D Levels Are Associated With Cognitive Decline.
In addition, a vitamin D deficiency can also make an elderly person act like they are suffering from dementia. This is one reason why you need a very good neurologist to make a correct diagnosis of Alzheimer's or dementia. A vitamin D deficiency, along with a long list of treatable illnesses or diseases, must be ruled out before the diagnosis can be make.
I now believe that the entire regimen and routine that I developed for Dotty helped slow the progression of Alzheimer's in her. Bright light was certainly one of the most important components of my plan.
I fully intend to explain in great detail during 2013 how each and every part of my plan could have made a difference, and slowed the progression of Alzheimer's disease in Dotty. And how the plan allowed us to live our lives in a real and meaningful way.
Did the constant exposure to bright light improve Dotty's vision? Or, was it genetic?
I strongly suggest you share this article - Vitamin D could combat the effects of ageing in eyes - with those who are having problem with their deteriorating vision.
Don't be afraid to think beyond the obvious. It might work for someone and it is worth the effort.
By the way, one of the most important parts of my caregiving plan was to have Dotty read the newspaper to me each morning, so vision was very important to us.
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Original content Bob DeMarco, the Alzheimer's Reading Room