Those of us in the age 40+ demographic know how it feels to begin to struggle with small print, finding the need to begin wearing reading glasses, increasing the font size on our electronic devices, or holding books at arm’s length to try to decrease blurring. Getting older and becoming challenged with vision changes often go hand in hand; however, a problem that’s lesser known for older adults is the increased potential for eye injury.
This July, during Eye Injury Prevention Month, it’s a perfect time to take a closer look at this issue and take preventative steps. It might surprise you to discover that hospitalizations because of eye trauma in individuals over age 65 are more and more common from an unexpected source: falls. In fact, a recent report estimates that older adults who had fallen accounted for 82% of the 18% rise in eye injury hospitalizations during the period 2001 – 2014. Not only that, but nearly 1/2 of all eye injuries in older adults happen where they should be safest: right at home.
And, it is a vicious cycle. Seniors tend to be more at risk of many different vision complications including glaucoma, cataracts, and macular degeneration, which can lead to an increased risk of falls – which then contributes to a heightened risk of eye injury.
Laurie Barber, MD, a comprehensive ophthalmologist, explains, however, that these conditions are in many cases preventable or treatable, making it vital to schedule annual senior eye exams.
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 linked to medication side effects or other health issues.
- Wear properly fitting, comfortable shoes.
- Stay physically active, especially through balance and strength exercises.
- Assess the home and remove any clutter, cords, throw rugs, etc. from walking paths.
- Securely install grab bars next to the toilet as well as in the shower.
- Place non-slip mats in and beside the bathtub.
- Make sure that 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. Abby Senior Care, providers of senior home care services in Denver, CO and surrounding areas, offers an in-home safety evaluation to check for any fall dangers and then can make suggestions for modifications to ensure the safest possible environment. Our caregivers are highly trained and knowledgeable in providing necessary support for older adults 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 exactly as they should be, and more.