As we grow in wisdom and age, one alarming statistic takes center stage — falls are a leading cause of injuries among Canadian seniors.
Amidst acute illnesses, balance impairments, chronic conditions, and cognitive challenges, the surprising, often-overlooked culprit is the gradual deterioration of vision.
Most people experience a decline in their vision between the ages of 41 and 60, and this decline is not merely a matter of blurred words on a page. It silently sabotages balance and detection of hazards, increasing the risk of potentially life-altering accidents.
So, what can be done in the face of such data and statistics? In this article, we will highlight the importance of routine eye checkups and how they can safeguard our senior population from preventable falls.
Understanding the Eye Health Challenges in Seniors
Navigating the golden years is remarkable due to the wisdom, experience, and memories we possess. It can also be challenging when dealing with eye health, especially as it can increase the risk of falling and causing severe injuries.
A 2006 study revealed that more than 240,000 Canadians over the age of 75 reported experiencing vision loss.
There are several other vision-related challenges that we encounter with age. Let’s shed some light on the most common age-related eye diseases, their symptoms, and how they can affect the day-to-day life of seniors:
Common Age-Related Eye Diseases
With age, many seniors begin to experience challenges such as difficulty seeing objects up close, distinguishing colors, and promptly adjusting to changing light conditions. However, these issues can be easily corrected if detected early, emphasizing the importance of routine eye check-ups for seniors to prevent correctable eye-related problems from becoming contributing factors to falls.
However, several age-related eye conditions are more serious, and early diagnosis can make a life-saving difference while preventing potentially fatal falls. Some of the most common age-related eye diseases include:
- Dry eyes
- Age-related macular degeneration
- Floaters and Flashers
- Temporal arteritis
Seniors with diabetes and hypertension face an even greater risk of developing these age-related eye diseases.
Symptoms & Signs to Watch Out For
One would think that noticing changes in vision or discomfort would be easy, but that’s rarely the case. Most of the time, seniors don’t notice any signs of symptoms until their eye condition has deteriorated significantly.
Let’s have a look at some of the signs and symptoms of age-related eye conditions:
- Difficulty in reading small print and focusing on close objects.
- Stinging, burning, irritating, or gritty sensation when blinking.
- Noticing floaters i.e., tiny dots, specks, web, or lines in the field of vision.
- Trouble seeing in the dark
- Seeing flashes of lightning across your field of vision.
- Blurred or distorted vision
- Cloudy vision
- Excessive discharge and teary eyes
- Change in the color of the iris
How Vision Changes Can Disrupt Daily Activities.
Every type of change in vision can have a significant effect on everyday life. When it comes to seniors, these changes can pose a risk to their lives by increasing their chances of falling and sustaining life-altering injuries.
Some eye diseases are quite serious, and if they aren’t diagnosed and treated in time, can lead to permanent loss of vision, therefore disrupting daily life significantly.
An eye condition like age-related macular degeneration can cause difficulty in reading and writing. Blurred vision can cause difficulty in driving or navigating around while walking. Night vision also deteriorates with age, making it difficult to walk around in the dark.
How Vision Problems Contribute to Falls
Seniors living alone and suffering from age-related eye conditions are at a higher risk of falling and sustaining injuries.
Let’s take a deeper look into vision problems and how they contribute to falls:
The Role of Vision Impairment in Increasing the Risk of Falling
Vision impairment alone does not lead to falls, but it’s one of the major contributing factors. Age-related vision conditions also come with other chronic illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease, strokes, etc.
The combination of poor vision, blurred vision, and sudden dark spots across the field of vision, paired with dizziness and muscle weakness increases the risk of falls in seniors.
Poor vision also makes it impossible for seniors to detect hazards in time and it impacts balance. When these factors come along with poor environments such as low lightening, no handrails, slippery floors, inappropriate footwear, crowded areas, etc. it further increases the risk of falling in seniors.
The Role of Routine Eye Examinations
Fortunately, falls are preventable with the right course of action. A necessary step for seniors to prevent falls and to reduce the risks of falling is to go for routine eye examinations.
This decision will not only reduce the risks of falling but will also prevent the slow progression of eye diseases, ensuring that the seniors continue to have an active lifestyle.
Let’s have a look at the role of routine eye checkups in preventing falls and their related consequences:
Early Detection of Eye Diseases
Early detection leads to earlier treatment and proactive management. Eye conditions such as poor vision, dry eyes, and inability to adjust to light conditions are correctional. The sooner the corrections, the lower the chances of accidents and falls.
Studies also report that 75% of visual impairment is avoidable with earlier diagnosis. Earlier detection becomes easy with routine checkups.
Updating Prescription Glasses or Lenses.
Prescription glasses and contacts last for a year or two. With routine checkups, seniors can always have updated prescriptions and glasses, ensuring that they can see well in their glasses.
Recommending Visual Aids for Better Safety
Routine eye checkups will ensure that a senior can see perfectly well. If the checkup indicates any kind of problems upon evaluation, the eye doctor will prescribe visual aids for clear eyesight and better safety,
Preventing Falls Among Seniors With Northwood Intouch
Routine eye examinations have become a crucial line of defense against falls in Canadian seniors. Early detection leads to early treatment and proactive management, reducing the risk of accidents and fatal falls.
Routine eye checkups also ensure updated prescriptions for glasses or lenses, enhancing vision clarity and safety. Furthermore, these checkups allow for the recommendation of visual aids, promoting clear eyesight and overall well-being, ensuring that seniors can maintain an active lifestyle.
However, apart from vision care, there are a lot of other precautions one can take to help prevent falls among seniors. Safety devices such as automatic fall detection and fall-proofing a senior’s home can all reduce the chances of accidental falls and serious injury.
To learn more about fall prevention among seniors, visit Northwood Intouch. You can also call us at +1 (902) 492-3346 or email us at email@example.com