There is nothing more precious than the gift of clear vision. World Sight Day is Oct. 12, and it emphasizes protecting your eyesight. Taking active steps to preserve and protect your vision can help decrease the risk of falls, fractures and other injuries.
Falls Among Elderly Americans Are on the Rise
The rate of falls in the United States has risen consistently over the past 10 years and is likely to continue increasing as life expectancy lengthens. Between 2001 and 2014, almost one million inpatient hospital admissions had eye injury as the primary or secondary diagnosis. According to a 2021 study, patients with a secondary diagnosis of an eye injury rose 31 percent, and 82 percent of the increase in secondary eye injuries was due to falls among older individuals.
The study found more than half of fall-related eye trauma occurred at home. Falls were more likely to occur during the winter, and women were more at risk than men. For patients whose primary diagnosis was an eye injury, orbital fracture from blunt trauma was the most common type.
Eye Diseases Can Increase the Risk of Falls
Low vision always creates mobility challenges. Common eye diseases that increase the likelihood of missteps and falls include the following:
- Cataracts — A cataract is the clouding of the eye lens, which can cause blurry vision and make patients more susceptible to falling. Cataract surgery is one of the safest and most common surgeries. One study found cataract surgery can significantly decrease the risk of a hip fracture.
- Glaucoma — This family of eye diseases deteriorates the optic nerve. Patients with glaucoma often lose their peripheral vision, which can cause them to collide with an object outside their visual field.
- Macular degeneration — This condition affects central vision. Patients with macular degeneration can easily trip over objects because they cannot see something in front of them.
Easy Ways to Prevent Falls and Protect Your Eyes
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control makes the following suggestions to keep your home safe and prevent falls:
- Remove clutter from your home. Keep your floors clear to prevent tripping.
- Avoid using small throw rugs that can shift underneath you.
- Use non-slip mats in the shower.
- Install grab bars next to your toilets and showers.
Comprehensive Eye Exams Preserve Vision and Prevent Injury
You can protect your vision by making an annual appointment for a comprehensive eye exam with dilation. At your eye appointment, your ophthalmologist will screen you for eye diseases, test your visual acuity and update your eyeglass prescription. Your doctor can also detect and diagnose vision problems during your eye exam and suggest customized treatments for your vision needs.
Are you under the care of a board-certified ophthalmologist? We can help. Our eye care centers are located across the country, and our physicians are taking new patients. Tell your loved ones about World Sight Day and offer to accompany them to their appointment. Healthy eyesight requires regular maintenance, so call today to get on the schedule before the end of the year.