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Reading has always been my mothers first love. I can't remeber a time in her life when mom didn't have a book going. Mom would read up to three books a week - everything from serious political or religious books to biographys to best seller crime novels. In the last couple of months mom has stopped reading - barely glances at magazines. When I talked to mom about it last week she said she couldn't see well enough to read anymore. I'm not convinced this is the cause as she has lost intrest in just about everything save her cat! However, I'm willing to give it a shot and take her to the eye doctor. Has anyone taken someone with dementia to the eye doctor? Moms dementia is probably considered moderate these days. Since I took her to a Getiatric Psychiatrist in December and he did a complete medication overhaul, mom has been 100x easier to get along with and is usually pleasant and agreeable. Still I'm not sure she could manage the "which one is better? This one or this one, this one or this one"? That bit makes me crazy when I go to the eye doctor! So - worthwhile attempt or exercise in futility? Lastly, a large chain bookstores offers a wide variety of those larger magnified reading assisters - some with or without an attached light. Has anyone used one that is worthwhile? Mom would need something on the larger side that she didn't have to grip and move along like a typical magnifying glass.

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First, Medicare pays for all eye examines once a year. Doesn't pay for eye dialation, lenses or frames. Moms Dr. wants to see her once a year for any changes. This year a stroke is in question since she no longer sees from the side on her left eye. Tomorrow she goes for a light test to confirm the stroke. Since she doesn't take instruction well, not sure how this will go. She has to push a button when she sees a light.
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we got one for mom, too; very nice
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I took my grandma to the eye doctor just last month. She had catarats years ago so medicare pays for her eye exams once a year. I was really worried as she has a 3rd grade level of reading having dropped out of school at that age and has severe dementia. She was able to read the letters to the lady and did a fine job of it. I asked the lady what happens when people can't do letters. She smiled and said she had pediatric charts with shapes that might work well for them if they can remember those. She said that dementia patients often can handle the charts until much much later in the disease and then the eye charts aren't necessary as they are bed ridden by then.

I'm sure it will go well. My mom used a natural light that contained a magnifying glass that was held up for her. She used it for sewing. She got it as Joann fabrics. It worked wonderfully. Maybe that will help her.
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My father had his first cataract surgery after my mother died in 2004. When the lens was removed, the membrane ruptured and then healed - which they tell me sometimes happens - but he carried with him the idea that it wasn't successful; which wasn't true, his final eyesight was 20-40. Then the other eye developed a worse cataract significantly affecting his vision, which he blamed on the first surgery, so it took me (and the doc) 11 years to convince him to have the second surgery. 3 weeks of preparation with eye drops and every day he thought it was the day of surgery. Finally the day arrived, we showed up at 8:30 am as scheduled, doc came out to greet him before surgery, surgery successful and when I went to see him, he didn't really understand why he was there. Had 4 teeth filled the other day and didn't know it either.
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Joann, why was asking; my mom had both done as well - so I do know the difference - why did your bil have to have a cornea transplant?
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My nephew was fitted for glasses at 8 months. I asked how they could determine he needed them when he couldn't do the test. I was told its the way light refracs off the eye. Once he put on those glasses he never took them off.
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Debdaughter, my BIL justhad both done. Cornia transplant and cateracts. Cateracts is making a slit taking out the old lens and putting in a new contact type lens. Cornia transplant is just that, a new cornia replaces the old one.
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Yes, I know exactly how hard it is to cope with, my gram was having a more difficult time reading and I went round and round with the eye doctors being as she has macular degeneration and glaucoma, but was also diagnosed with Alzheimer's with mild dementia. Unfortunately it wasn't her eyes but her ability to understand the written word. My sympathy, I couldn't possibly describe the challenge it is to care for someone with those conditions. Consider medications for the Alzheimer's, in my experience it does help. I won't say it can reverse any damage done but it does slow it.
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LKB, you said both cataract and cornea implants...did she have both?
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I have. My late Mother's retinologist funneled $800,000.00 into a "faux" fund, but she didn't care because she liked to socialize with him at appointments even though he was a felon!
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I took my MIL to the eye doctor last Fall to check on her glaucoma and her cataract implants. Here is my advice: 1) Find an eye doctor who is familiar with dementia and it's impact. I talked with my doctor before taking her and fortunately his MIL also had dementia so he knew exactly how to handle her. 2) Make sure you are in the room with her. Technology now exists to "read" the eyes which eliminates some of the "which is better" but there is no doubt that it is a frustrating process. You will have to mediate between your loved one and the eye tech who might not be as understanding. In the end the best advice I can provide is to make sure your doctor and his staff understand dementia and it's challenges. That made all the difference for us and we got through the exam and were able to fix a problem with her cornea implants and she was able to see better.
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My husband had cataract surgery about midway through his dementia. It made a gigantic difference in his quality of life!
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Quite the informative afternoon. I started calling for appointments. Turns out mom was diagnoised with minor cataracts about two years ago - which she chose to do nothing about. So mom has an appointment with the Doctor that did the original diagnosis. Not sure what will happen if he says the cataracts are much worse. Also have an appointment for new glasses two weeks after the first appointment. Guess it makes sense to do it this way - can always cancel the glasses appointment if the real issue is the cataracts.
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Don't misunderstand "weeping" eyes. When we have dry eyes, they will often weep but the tears are not "quality" tears and have no lubricating effect on the eye. When the eye is dry it has trouble focusing. I have been using OTC drops for years. I personally use Genteal. My doctor recommended Genteal or Refresh Tears because neither have any preservatives and after trying both I prefer Genteal. And, as has been said, she needs to be checked for diseases such as glaucoma, macular degeneration, etc. all of which effect eyesight and most can be treated. Good luck.
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Hi, Rainmom. Your answer may not be as easy as just going to the Eye Doctor for a test. I have worked with Dementia patients for over 20 years. And the first thing which stands out is what kind of dementia it is.

I'm sure by now you have heard all the information regarding your mom's diagnosis. You seem to be keeping a good tract on everything. So hear is my best answer when looking at most dementia patients. The problem may not be the seeing rather it maybe the ability to retain the reading process. In other words your mom may be reading a paragraph and when she arrives at the end of the paragraph she cannot remember the beginning of it.

What you can do start with is see how well she does with an audiobook. Please help her to set it up, since this maybe a new task for her. If possible begin with a book she really liked.

What we are talking about in general here is quality of life. This may not be the time for cataract surgery. If it is frightening for her or the benefit will not out weigh the procedure. You are the best person to make this decision.

Please let me know if I can of further assistance.
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Most eye doctors have the technology to find the right prescription without the, is this one better technique. It is the same way they get the prescription for babies or small children. The computer basically figures it out for them.

I agree with the others. Call ahead of time and tell them of the dementia, and the inability to do the which one is better test. Make sure they will be able to do the exam and have had experience with people who have dementia. The only thing that they still try to do with my husband is the peripheral vision test where they have to press a button if they see a light flash. He can't remember to press the button so I now ask they not put him through that one.
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I thibk going to the optometrist is worthwhile. It could be any number or reasons. She could have macular degeneration even. At least get a checkup. My dad has vascular dementia and can answer the "this one or that one better" questions. I always go with him to help and also record on my smart phone anything the said by the dr. That is incase my dad forgets what was said about his eyes or has an entirely different perception of what went on. Do that and then go from there.
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I have a kindle myself - love it. I wish that could be a solution for my mom, but these days mom has trouble using the old fashion phone she has had for years. My brother has a medium size tablet that he has downloaded with dozens of pics from my parents old photo albums - he likes to work her memory by asking her to tell the story regarding a photo. Anyhow - he has found just getting mom to swipe the page to forward to the next pic beyond her abilities.
The advice here has been so helpful - making moms appointment later today. I figure at a minimum we will get an idea of the health of her eyes.
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I forgot to mention that the eye doctor is well aware of Mom's dementia and he deals with many children so he wears headgear to examine her , since she can't really follow instruction..
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I took my mother to the eye doctor so that at the very least he could check her eyes for changes. Especially as she has had cateract surgery in both and that should be kept track of. Now that she is having at home hospice, eye exams are low on the list. But if your Mother is still in a moderate stage of dementia she should have her eyes examined. Just be sure to warn the doctor of her limitations.
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I took my father with dementia to the eye doctor. It was difficult. He kept resisting the doctor and asking who he was every minute or so. However, what you do would depend upon the circumstances. My father needs his eyes checked for glaucoma, so it is medically necessary for him to be checked periodically. I think that if it were not medically necessary, I probably wouldn't take him because he has stopped most activities that required good eyesight. He no longer reads or watches TV because his memory is so bad he cannot remember long enough to follow a story line.
My elderly father has issues with technology, and if your mother is the same, I would not go out and buy a tablet like a Kindle or Ipad, as many seniors cannot figure out how to use them. If you already have one, you could test her on that one. If she can't learn how to use it, like my father, then you have saved the cost of a new tablet. If she does learn how to use it and likes it, then give her your old one (once she is then used to) and, if you need to, get yourself a new one. I personally have a couple of old ones that still work, so I wouldn't have to buy anything new if I were in this situation
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I think it's a comprehension issue.. But by all means take her for an eye exam..

My Mom has glaucoma and has 4 drops twice a day, she can still read words but doesn't remember what she read..

Even with the glaucoma she also read several books a week but not anymore...
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The Kindle Paperwhite is my best friend. It is back lit and that can be adjusted. The font (print) size is also adjustable from very tiny to huge. I download books for free from the Los Angeles County library system through Amazon.

You may have to assist her in choosing books to read and getting them delivered to her device through your own computer.

If you already have a notebook, laptop, or desk top computer, you can open Amazon's webpage (amazon.com) and set up a free reader and she can use the device you already have.

I spend all of my life either reclining or in my power chair, but mostly in the recliner with legs elevated due to poor circulation. Reading is my only activity, since we do not have TV. I am out of the recliner for 2-3 hours after each meal, and generally use my desktop computer to stay abreast of other things and correspondence. My Kindle saved my life, truly.
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Was it just coincidence that I got this the same day I am taking Dad to the eye doctor? We have seen him several times in the last year and today we are going to check Dad's glasses to see if they got the bifocal right. He has moderate dementia, too, and doesn't notice either when he needs to turn the lights on. (He also has a reading lamp.) I'll try the excellent idea of a timer but am sure he will switch it off as he is obsessive about switching things off. I did try the "clapper" but he got confused and turned the light off, then complained about it not working. He reads the newspaper every day but I'm not sure how much. Got him a large print book from the library that he liked but after cataract surgery last year, and two subsequent upgrades to his prescription lenses, he recently said that the lines run together for him on the large print book. (Not sure about the newspaper or magazines.) At least it was that way last week. His eye doctor is very patient with him, giving him time to think between #1 or #2, but of course, we might have gotten it wrong. He is not interested in one of those magnifying machines, as we bought one for his sister who had macular degeneration and I don't think she used it. It has been donated to her nursing home. We do have magnifying glasses all over the house for reading things like thermostats. Hope this helps.
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Rainmom, I just reread your post. You said your mother's medications were changed in December, and if I understood correctly, her reading has declined since then. I would talk with her doctor or pharmacist and find out if there is some relationship between the two. For my mother having her eyes checked in the afternoon is better than in the morning. While she doesn't need magnifiers at this point, I do for my needlework. There is one magnifier that you wear around your neck and it is adjustable for distance. Another magnifier I use is one for just a line of type, which I use for reading patterns. A magnifier my dad really likes fits in his pocket and has a light built in. I got that at an office supply store, and it cost $10. If you look for low vision products online, you will find there is a host of options out there. Or if you can visit a low vision store and let her try out some of the options, then perhaps she will get what she really needs.
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Reading ur post was like u were talking about my Mom. She too was an advid reader and no longer can enjoy it. She said it was her glasses. Took her to the eye doctor. Since she has had cateract surgery, her eyes will never change. It has to do with the brain being able to process the information. She was able to read the chart. A year later not sure how that will work but he wants to see her yearly to make sure everything is OK.
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Maybe the eye Dr can tell without any correct answers. My mom just says "Fine" to any well being question. She doesn't read any more, but she can still see OK so far as we know. She doesn't watch TV. Might just be getting close to the end?? She does say that all the people in the facility she's in are a bit nutty.
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There are opthamologists that specialize in people with special needs and developmental disabilities. My sister, who has Down Syndrome has to see this type of specialist. Perhaps, your Mom would benefit from such a specialist, as they understand the needs and have the necessary equipment to provide an exam.
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Oh, I went through that as well with my mom with her macular degeneration - the dry kind - the good kind? she didn't think so, with the wet you can get shots that she at least thought would be doing something, even though you get them because it's worse, while you don't with dry because you don't need them, but try getting her to understand that. But, also, dry eye doesn't mean your eyes don't weep; it can mean they do, trying to compensate but turned out seemingly she didn't actually have that as well - or maybe she did as well, but anyway turned out she had other issues as well; well, they did somewhat know some of this, that she had cornea dystrophy, anyway, he put her on Restasis, which was just making her eyes water even more but she didn't want to tell him because she was afraid it would make him mad, which...wonder, because turned out he'd already tried to get her to go to the cornea specialist and she wouldn't because....he was in the same office where she'd been going for....her eye swelling shut, etc., where she'd go and they'd give her lube, ointment, etc. for, but she would only go as a walk-in, emerg when that would happen so she'd never see "her" doctor, only the one on call; they'd make her an appointment with "hers" but then she would never keep it because she'd be ok by then, so all this went on until the day she woke up in excruciating pain in that eye and turned out her eye had been watering so from fluid build-up behind it from her cataract surgery that had caused blisters that had popped but also turned out that one of her implants from her cataract surgery had come out of place, so he sent her to a retinal specialist, the one who'd - yea, get this - had diagnosed her cornea issue, but since he wouldn't come to this eye doc's office for this, where that had been done and his office was 2 hrs. away, switched her "back" to the more local one she had gone to before her cataract surgery, who had diagnosed her with the macular degeneration and turned out she had been supposed to have gone back after the surgery but she didn't realize it and I didn't know it, so....went and, again, the retinal specialist is the one who found the cornea blisters and put her on a bandage contact regimen but he was the first doctor who recognized she had other issues and wanted me there; up to then she basically didn't want me involved.

She also had the issue with dad wanting to keep the house dark - to save money.

And mom was hard of hearing as well - and the bandage contact did heal the blisters but then was still left with the implant issue, which, he did remove, btw, which led to other issues stemming from her not going to the cornea specialist, because in removing the implant - and not sure if anything could have been done differently, anyway - he did something which made fixing the cornea issue a problem, what had happened they had scraped the back of her cornea in doing the implant - but having said all that, she didn't really understand any of that; she just knew she couldn't see and they weren't fixing it

oh but I had managed to get with the eye doc she'd been going to before all this happened and then call while I knew she was there so we could get her consent and get her sent to the local Dept of the Blind and Visually impaired, which might be an option, except that all they basically did for her was bring her a lighted magnifier, which wasn't really big enough to read by, so guess not; we did get her one of those sheet magnifiers that seemed to be more help
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Rainmom, my Mom eventually stopped reading due to macular degeneration, which meant she could no longer see what is straight in front of her, it was a grey cloud. And she could only see out of the corner of her eyes. She use to love to read, and watch TV. Eventually she stopped watching TV, too.

Mom would want to go to the eye doctor office every 6 months, thinking that stronger lenses glasses would help her... but eventually there came a point where no matter what the strength of her glasses, nothing would help.

Then Dad decided to change all the light bulbs to those florescent curly lights and that made it worse for Mom to see. So Mom had to use a flashlight to help her read :P

Going to the eye doctor wasn't easy as Mom was constantly blinking like she was trying to blink away that grey cloud in her eye. The techs would try to take a photo of the inside of her eye but Mom just couldn't stop blinking. And the eye test itself [which is better A or B] wasn't easy as Mom was also hard of hearing. But her long time eye doctor had a lot of patience with her and had a voice that Mom was able to understand most of the time :)
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