Those of us in the age 40+ demographic know how it feels to begin to have trouble with small print, finding the need to start wearing reading glasses, increasing the font size on our electronic devices, or holding books at arm’s length to try and eliminate blurring. Growing older and becoming challenged with vision changes in many cases go hand in hand; however, a problem that is lesser known for seniors is the increased potential for eye injury.
During Eye Injury Prevention Month this July, it’s an ideal time to take a closer look at this issue and take preventative steps. It may surprise you to learn that hospitalizations because of eye trauma in individuals over age 65 are increasingly common from an unexpected source: falls. In fact, a recent report estimates that older adults who had fallen accounted for 82% of the 18% increase in eye injury hospitalizations during the period 2001 – 2014. Not only that, but approximately 50 % of all eye injuries in seniors happen where they should be safest: right at home.
And, it’s a vicious cycle. Seniors tend to be more susceptible to a range of vision complications such as glaucoma, cataracts, and macular degeneration, which may lead to an increased risk of falls – which then leads to an increased risk of eye injury.
Laurie Barber, MD, a comprehensive ophthalmologist, explains, nonetheless, that these conditions are often preventable or treatable, making it important to schedule an annual senior eye exam.
Additional fall prevention steps recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control include:
- First and foremost, tell the physician about any falls or feelings of unsteadiness, which could be connected to medication side effects or other health issues.
- Wear properly fitting, comfortable shoes.
- Stay physically active, especially through balance and strength exercises.
- Assess the house and remove any clutter, cords, throw rugs, etc. from walking paths.
- Properly install grab bars beside the toilet as well as in the bathtub.
- Place non-slip mats in and beside the shower.
- Make sure that there is plenty of lighting throughout the home.
A great way to help keep older adults safe from falls and other injuries is to partner with a professional home care agency. Inspired Home Care can provide an in-home safety assessment to check for any fall risks and also make suggestions for adjustments to ensure the safest possible environment. Our caregivers are trained and knowledgeable in providing necessary support for seniors to further assist in fall prevention, and can transport and accompany seniors to medical appointments and procedures including eye exams, pick up prescriptions and provide medication reminders so they are taken just as they should be, and more.