This article aims to facilitate optimal management of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (AMD) by providing information on indications, risk factors, referral guidelines, and treatments and to describe techniques to maximize quality of life (QOL) for people with irreversible vision loss. A review of PubMed and other online databases was performed for peer-reviewed English-language articles from 1980 through August 2012 on visual impairment in elderly adults. Search terms included vision loss, visual impairment, blind, low vision, QOL combined with age-related, elderly, and aging. Articles were selected that discussed vision loss in elderly adults, effects of vision impairment on QOL, and care strategies to manage vision loss in older adults. The ability of primary care physicians (PCPs) to identify early signs of cataracts and AMD in individuals at risk of vision loss is critical to early diagnosis and management of these common age-related eye diseases. PCPs can help preserve vision by issuing aptly timed referrals and encouraging behavioral modifications that reduce risk factors. With knowledge of referral guidelines for soliciting low-vision rehabilitation services, visual aids, and community support resources, PCPs can considerably increase the QOL of individuals with uncorrectable vision loss. By offering appropriately timed referrals, promoting behavioral modifications, and allocating low-vision care resources, PCPs may play a critical role in preserving visual health and enhancing the QOL for the elderly population.
Keywords: age-related macular degeneration; cataracts; elderly; primary care.
© 2016, Copyright the Authors Journal compilation © 2016, The American Geriatrics Society.