Those of us in the age 40+ demographic know how it feels to start 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. Getting older and becoming challenged with vision changes many times go hand in hand, but a problem that is lesser known for seniors is the heightened potential for eye injury.
During Eye Injury Prevention Month this July, it’s the ideal time to take a closer look at this issue and take preventative steps. It may surprise you to find out that hospitalizations as a consequence of eye trauma in people over age 65 are increasingly common from an unexpected source: falls. In fact, a newly released study estimates that older adults who had fallen accounted for 82% of the 18% boost in eye injury hospitalizations during the period 2001 – 2014. Not just that, but nearly 50 % of all eye injuries in older adults happen where they should be safest: right at home.
And, it is a vicious cycle. Seniors are more susceptible to multiple vision complications including glaucoma, cataracts, and macular degeneration, which could lead to an increased risk of falls – which then contributes to an increased risk of eye injury.
Laurie Barber, MD, a comprehensive ophthalmologist, explains, however, that these conditions are in many cases preventable or treatable, which makes it very important for all older adults to have annual eye exams and screenings for overall eye health.
Additional fall prevention steps suggested by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control include:
- Most importantly, tell the doctor about any falls or feelings of unsteadiness, which might be connected with medication side effects or other health conditions.
- 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.
- Properly install grab bars next to the toilet as well as in the bathtub.
- Place non-slip mats in and beside the bathtub.
- Be certain that there is sufficient lighting through the entire home.
To help keep senior loved ones safe from falls or other injuries, partner with a trusted home care agency. Home With You Senior Care, the experts in home and dementia care in Ellicott City, can provide an in-home safety evaluation to check for any fall hazards while making recommendations for modifications to ensure the safest possible environment. Our caregivers are trained and knowledgeable in providing necessary support for seniors to further assist in fall prevention, and provide medication reminders so they’re taken just as they should be, and much more.