Those of us in the age 40+ demographic know how it feels to start to struggle with fine 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 attempt to eliminate blurring. Growing older and becoming challenged with vision changes many times go in hand-in-hand, but a problem that’s lesser known for older adults is the elevated prospect of 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 due to eye trauma in people over age 65 are increasingly common from an unexpected source: falls. In fact, a newly released 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 nearly half of all eye injuries in seniors occur where they should be safest: right at home.
And, it is a vicious cycle. Seniors are more susceptible to a variety of vision complications, for example, glaucoma, cataracts, and macular degeneration, which may lead to an increased risk of falls – which then brings about an enhanced risk of eye injury.
Laurie Barber, MD, a comprehensive ophthalmologist, points out, however, these types of conditions are typically preventable or treatable, making it very important for all older adults to get annual eye exams.
Additional fall prevention steps recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control include:
- Most importantly, tell the doctor about any falls or feelings of unsteadiness, which could be connected with 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 next to the toilet as well as in the shower.
- Place non-slip mats in and beside the shower.
- Make sure there is sufficient lighting throughout the home.
Are you caring for older parents who have eye issues? Partnering with a professional home care agency is also a great way to keep seniors safe from falls and other injuries. Grace Home Care, a provider of trusted at home care in Topeka, can provide an in-home safety evaluation to check for any fall hazards and also make suggestions for modifications to ensure the safest possible environment. Our caregivers are highly trained and experienced in providing necessary support for seniors to further help with fall prevention, and can transport and accompany older adults 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 much more.