Edmonds and Slatter Optician Saagar Hirani has been looking into falls amongst elderly patients and has found there are many ways to try and reduce their frequency.
Failing vision can significantly increase the risk of falling, especially with the elderly. Across the UK, one in three people over 65 will fall every year. Falls are the most common cause of hospitalisation for people aged over 65.
Ageing eyes and failing vision increases the risk of falls. It is normal for our eyes to change as a result of ageing. Normal changes include losing the ability to focus on things that are close-up (presbyopia), finding that it takes longer to adapt to changes in lighting conditions and finding that we need more light to see things.
There are several reasons why people fall over and not all are related to poor eyesight. You are most at risk of falling if you:
• Are aged over 75;
• Have fallen before;
• Have Parkinson’s disease, arthritis, diabetes, Meniere’s disease or dementia and/or;
• Are taking sedatives, antidepressants or more than four prescription medicines a day.
Ageing eyes require regular sight tests to pick up any problems and help you to maintain your vision. Everyone over the age of 60 is entitled to a free NHS sight test.
You can reduce the chances of having a fall by following a few simple points:
• Try to keep your eyes healthy – have regular sight tests.
• Have good lighting. Energy saving bulbs are fine as long as you position them correctly. Have lamps close to where you need the light (for example, a lamp near the chair where you sit to read).
• Make sure you turn the lights on at home when it is dark, so that you can see where you are going.
• Make sure that your carpets are well fitted and do not have trip hazards, such as creases, in them. If you have a rug that is on a slippery floor, make sure that it does not slip or move when you walk on it.
• Wear suitable footwear when you are walking around, both at home and outside.
• Having a good contrast between things can make them easier to see. For example having a dark kitchen floor if you have a white cooker or having dark edges on steps or stairs.
• If you are dazzled by the sunshine when you are out, wear sunglasses that absorb the UV light or a hat with a brim to shield you from the sunlight.
• If your Optician has told you that you should wear glasses for distance (watching television, walking about and so on) you should keep them on when you are walking outside your home.
• If you wear bifocals or varifocals and take part in regular outdoor activities, it may be a good idea to have a pair of distance glasses to wear outdoors, or to take your glasses off if your distance prescription is not very strong. Your Optician will be able to advise you about this.
• If you have had a big change in your glasses prescription, ask your Optician whether they can change the strength of your glasses gradually to make is easier for you to get used to your new prescription.
To book a sight test please call Edmonds & Slatter Opticians on Blaby 0116 277 7733, Glenfield 0116 287 1025 or Lutterworth 01455 556 053.