Comprehensive Eye Exams Can Prevent Fractures and Falls
Vision is our most powerful sense. We perceive 80 percent of our impressions through our eyes. World Sight Day is Oct. 12, and it emphasizes protecting your eyesight. Reducing hazards and getting annual eye exams can protect your vision and decrease the risk of falls, fractures and other injuries.
More Elderly Americans Are Falling
More than 25 percent of senior adults fall every year, but fewer than half tell their physicians. The rate of falls in the United States has risen consistently over the past 10 years and is likely to continue increasing as life expectancy lengthens.
Between 2001 and 2014, almost one million inpatient hospital admissions had eye injury as the primary or secondary diagnosis. According to a 2021 study, patients with a secondary diagnosis of an eye injury rose 31 percent, and 82 percent of the increase in secondary eye injuries was due to falls among older individuals.
The study found that more than half of fall-related eye trauma occurred at home. Falls were more likely to occur during the winter, and women were more at risk than men. For patients whose primary diagnosis was an eye injury, orbital fracture from blunt trauma was the most common type.
Vision Problems Can Increase the Risk of Falls
Seniors with low vision are more at risk for falls and injuries compared to seniors with unobstructed vision. Eye disease can increase the likelihood of tripping, stumbling or bumping into furniture.
- Cataracts — A cataract is the clouding of the eye lens, which can cause blurry vision and make patients more susceptible to falling. Cataract surgery is one of the safest and most common surgeries. One study found cataract surgery can significantly decrease the risk of a hip fracture.
- Glaucoma — This family of eye diseases deteriorates the optic nerve. Patients with glaucoma often lose their peripheral vision, which can cause them to collide with an object outside their visual field.
- Macular degeneration — This condition affects central vision. Patients with macular degeneration can easily trip over objects because they cannot see something in front of them.
Ways to Prevent Falls and Protect Your Eyes
Older adults with low vision or who are at risk for vision impairment often have other chronic conditions, such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes, which can also increase the chance of falling. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control makes the following suggestions to keep your home safe and prevent falls:
- Remove clutter from your home. Keep your floors clear to prevent tripping.
- Wear sturdy, nonslip footwear.
- Make sure all rooms and hallways are well-lit.
- Avoid using small throw rugs that can shift underneath you.
- Use non-slip mats in the shower.
- Install grab bars next to your toilets and showers.
Comprehensive Eye Exams Preserve Vision and Prevent Injury
Celebrate World Sight Day by calling your ophthalmologist and making an appointment for a comprehensive eye exam with dilation. More than 12 million Americans aged 40 years and older experience vision impairment. Are you taking active steps to keep your eyes healthy?
At your eye appointment, your ophthalmologist will screen you for eye diseases, evaluate your visual acuity and update your eyeglass prescription. Your doctor can also detect and diagnose vision problems during your eye exam and suggest customized treatments for your eyesight needs. Call today to get on the schedule.