Preventing vision-related falls in seniors

#Import 2023-06-26 23:24

Preventing vision-related falls in seniors

Caroline Teske

1 min read

As we mature, so do our eyes.  Aging eyes can mean decreased sharpness, difficulty distinguishing shades, problems with glare, problems moving light to dark, depth perception difficulty, out of focus vision or peripheral vision loss.  Any one of these changes can increase the risk of falls.  Our balance, our reaction time, our ability to focus can all be affected.  Diseases such as macular degeneration, cataracts, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, stroke, nerve palsies, dry eye, ocular inflammation can all increase the risk of falls.

Genetically shared diseases we cannot control but there are many things we can.  If we focus on prevention, we encourage you to see your optometrist regularly but that is only the beginning.  You should wear your most current spectacles if needed, use any rehabilitation exercises if required.  Options such as vision therapy or light therapy help reset the nervous system post stroke or concussion.  All should wear sunglasses to reduce glare and eliminate UV.  Don't smoke or vape, use lubricating eyedrops daily and ensure proper nutrition. Environmental changes such as installing good lighting in and outside your home, eliminating items in your path, installing accessible hand rails all will help reduce falls and prevent injury.

We know and understand that eyes are the input to the brain.  If vision is blurred from any diseases such as cataracts or even dry eye the brain is deprived of clear input.  We believe impaired input to the brain from poor vision can exacerbate dementia. The eyes are intrinsically attached to the vestibular system and balance.  Using necessary devices such as canes or walkers or engaging in balance exercises even dance or tai-chi can assist with balance and help the vestibular-ocular reflexes to avoid falls.

We all deserve to live longer and well! Let's be proactive in maintaining good eye health and prevent injury!