While nearly everyone is aware of Alzheimer’s disease and the devastating affect that it has on an individual’s memory and cognition, many people are surprised to learn that the disease often extends to vision as well. Alzheimer’s and dementia significantly affect the visual processing system, particularly the way in which the brain takes in and interprets visual information.
Alzheimer’s and vision:
By brain mass vision is our largest and arguably our most important sense. So essentially visual stimulation and brain stimulation are one and the same, since visual stimulation activates the occipital lobe where information is then transferred to different areas of the brain. In degenerative diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer’s brain stimulation is essential to slow the progression of the disease and improve quality of life. For individuals with Alzheimer’s disease the brain has difficulty processing and interpreting visual information, which may distort the way an individual views the world around them.
Aspects of vision that are affected by Alzheimer’s disease: It has been estimated that sixty-percent of individuals with Alzheimer’s will have a decline in some sort of visual capacity. The most common areas of vision that are negatively impacted by Alzheimer’s and dementia include:
• Reduction in the number and accuracy of small eye movements
• Colour perception (loss of the blue, purple, green part of the spectrum)
• Figure-background contrast discrimination
• Depth and motion perception
• Visual acuity
• Object and facial recognition
How can the Qball help individuals with Alzheimer’s:
1. Motion blindness: Individuals with Alzheimer’s often suffer from ‘motion blindness’, which is difficulty sensing movement. This may make it difficult for individuals to navigate their surroundings, and they can become lost easily. The erratic bounce of the Qball forces individuals to keep a close eye on the ball, strengthening and exercising their ability to focus and follow objects and movement.
2. Depth perception: It is often common for individuals with Alzheimer’s to have difficulty with depth perception, and three dimensional objects may begin to lose their shape and appear flat. The Qball’s movement trains and strengthens depth perception because individuals use both eyes in coordinated binocular movements while watching the Qball.
3. Short term memory and recall: The simple and fun games that individuals can engage in with the Qball exercise working memory and recall, both of which are compromised in individuals with Alzheimer’s disease. These include simple memory games, such as recalling a sequence of number, or engaging mathematical challenges.