Millions of American seniors are affected by poor vision, which contributes to dangerous falls increasing the risk of disability. Nearly 2.8 million seniors are believed to have severe vision impairment and of them 1.3 million experience a fall at least once.
Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency physician at Lenox Hill Hospital, explained that falls “represent a major source of disability and can lead to prolonged recoveries and lengthy stays in hospitals and long-term care facilities.”
Fractures and wounds in seniors are slower to heal, meaning that falls can be disabling or life-threatening. Having regular vision checks are essential for fall prevention as corrective lenses and other interventions can be implemented in order to reduce the risk of poor vision-related falls. Glatter added, “Monitoring changes in visual acuity is a critical aspect of screening in older persons who live independently, for fall risk – especially if they use canes or walkers.”
The latest studies were conducted by researchers at the CDC who found that the risk of poor vision-related falls has drastically increased from 28 percent to 47 percent.
The risk of poor vision-related falls could jump even higher when other health issues and chronic illnesses come into play.
Dr. Gisele Wolf-Klein who directs geriatric education at Northwell Health in New Hyde Park compiled a list of useful tips in order to reduce the risk of falls associated with poor vision.
- Have a family member or a friend come to take a “fresh look” at your home – they may point out an obstacle you hadn’t identified, such as a throw rug or cable on the floor, which might cause you to trip.
- Replace light bulbs to provide you with good lighting in all the rooms, staircases, and hallways that you use.
- Make sure your prescription lenses have been recently upgraded by your ophthalmologist and avoid bifocal lenses, unless absolutely necessary.
- Check the soles of your slippers: if they are worn out, replace them.
- Rearrange your furniture so that your most needed items are within easy reach of your favorite chair.
- Unclutter your home and dispose of items that are no longer meaningful to you.
- Be careful of slippery surfaces in your kitchen and in your bathroom.
- Consider having an occupational therapist advise you on how to professionally safe-proof your home with grab bars and non-skid equipment.
- Participate regularly in an exercise balance program, such as Tai Chi.
- Get a Life Alert system to summon help in the event of a fall.
Also, read Bel Marra Health 5 tips for better vision.