Those of us in the age 40+ demographic know how it feels to begin to have trouble 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 in order to cut down on blurring. Growing older and becoming challenged with vision changes often go hand in hand, but a problem that’s lesser known for seniors is the increasing probability 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 may surprise you to learn that hospitalizations as a result of eye trauma in people over age 65 are more and more common from an unexpected source: falls. In fact, a current report estimates that seniors who had fallen accounted for 82% of the 18% increase in eye injury hospitalizations during the period 2001 – 2014. Not only that, but almost half of all eye injuries in older adults happen where they should be safest: right at home.
And, it is a vicious cycle. Older adults are more at risk for multiple vision complications including glaucoma, cataracts, and macular degeneration, which could lead to an enhanced risk of falls – which then contributes to an elevated risk of eye injury.
Laurie Barber, MD, a comprehensive ophthalmologist, explains that these types of conditions are usually preventable or treatable, making it very important for all older adults to have annual eye exams.
Additional fall prevention steps suggested by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control include:
- Most importantly, tell the physician 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 with 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 next to the shower.
- Be certain that there is adequate lighting throughout the home.
Partnering with a professional home care agency is also a great way to keep seniors safe from falls and other injuries. Hearts at Home In-Home Care, providers of home care assistance in Kansas City, offers an in-home safety evaluation to check for any fall dangers and will make recommendations for modifications to ensure the safest possible environment. Our caregivers are trained and knowledgeable in providing necessary support for senior loved ones to further assist in 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 are taken exactly as they should be, and much more.