Visual impairment could double the risk of falls in older Australians[i], a leading cause for hospital admissions among the older population[ii]. However fall-related injuries can be avoided through early detection of eye disease and undertaking regular eye examinations.
According to a UK study, 75 per cent of older people who suffer a fall as a result of poor vision had a visual impairment that was easily correctable[iii].
Regular eye examinations provide the best chance of maintaining your well-being and independence longer.
Many older Australians are suffering simply because they do not wear spectacles, or use spectacles with prescriptions that are out of date.
Changes to eye health can be gradual, and serious conditions can progress without any obvious symptoms. With early detection, many eye diseases are treatable or preventable.
Even the slightest change in vision can seriously impact on the quality of people’s lives and their safety. Increased rates of eye diseases among older Australians can cause key vision problems that may contribute to falls, injuries and fractures. Problems include reduced visual clarity, narrower visual field, reduced sensitivity to contrast and poor perception of depth, which can affect our ability to spot hazards in our path or to judge the position of steps.
Older Australians should not accept poor vision as a way of life. Eye examinations attract a Medicare rebate and government subsidised spectacles are sometimes available.
Tips to prevent falls
- Have regular eye examinations with an optometrist, to detect or monitor any eye problems and make sure your spectacle or lens prescription is up-to-date.
- Avoid leaving obstacles lying around the home, don’t rush and always ensure adequate lighting.
- Maintain an active and healthy lifestyle through regular exercise, good nutrition and regular physical checkups.
- Talk to your friends, family and local optometrist about any concerns you have with your vision or mobility.
- If you notice any changes or reduction in your vision, consult your optometrist immediately.
[i] Centre for Vision Research, Blue Mountains Eye Study, 2007
[ii] Australian Institute of Health and Welfare – Older Australians in hospital, 2007
[iii] The College of Optometrists, Millions of Pensioners Needlessly Risk Depression and Bad Falls, 2007