Those of us in the age 40+ demographic know how it feels to start to struggle 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 to reduce blurring. Growing older and becoming challenged with vision changes frequently go hand in hand, but a problem that’s lesser known for older adults is the increased possibility of ocular trauma.
During Eye Injury Prevention Month this July, it’s an ideal time to take a closer look at preventative steps. It might surprise you to discover that hospitalizations resulting from eye trauma in people over age 65 are increasingly common from an unexpected source: falls. In fact, a recent report estimates that seniors who had fallen accounted for 82% of the 18% increase in eye injury hospitalizations during the period 2001 – 2014. Not just that, but approximately 1/2 of all eye injuries in seniors occur where they should be safest: right at home.
And, it is a vicious cycle. Seniors are far more susceptible to a number of vision complications which can include glaucoma, cataracts, and macular degeneration, which may lead to an enhanced risk of falls – which then contributes to a greater risk of eye injury.
Laurie Barber, MD, a comprehensive ophthalmologist, points out, nonetheless, that these conditions are usually preventable or treatable, which makes it vitally important for all seniors to get annual eye exams.
Further fall prevention steps suggested by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control include:
- Above all, tell the physician about any falls or feelings of unsteadiness, which may be connected with medication side effects or other health conditions.
- Wear properly fitting, comfortable shoes.
- Stay physically active, especially with balance and strength exercises.
- Assess the house and remove any clutter, cords, throw rugs, etc. from walking paths.
- Securely install grab bars beside the toilet and in the shower.
- Place non-slip mats in and beside the shower.
- Be sure there is sufficient lighting through the entire home.
A great way to help keep older adults safe from falls and other injuries is to partner with a professional home care agency like Compassionate Nursing Services, providers of senior home care St. Louis families trust. We offer an in-home safety assessment to check for any fall risks and we also create strategies for modifications to ensure the safest possible environment. Our caregivers are highly trained and knowledgeable in providing necessary support for seniors to further help with 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’re taken just as they should be, and more.