Vision and falls

Across the UK, falls are the most common cause of hospitalisation for people aged over 65, and of accidental death in those aged over 75. Undetected and untreated visual impairment plays a significant role in the high incidence of falls among older people. 

We have recently updated the importance of vision in preventing falls report to provide more specific and detailed recommendations about how optometrists can help to prevent their older patients from falling. The document has been endorsed by Age UK, The Royal College of General Practitioners and British Geriatrics Society. The new guidelines provide updated evidence from vision and falls studies in the last 10 years and give more specific and detailed recommendations about how optometrists can help to prevent their older patients from falling.

“ I believe that there is much that can be done to support falls teams to reduce the unnecessarily high number of falls that could be related to vision. With a little effort we can make a huge difference to the safety and quality of life for our most vulnerable patients. ”

Olivier Deneve, College Policy Manager and Falls Project Lead

Recommendations for identifying patients at high risk of falls include:

  • asking about fall history for those at risk
  • promoting more regular eye exams with smaller prescription changes
  • suggesting earlier first eye cataract surgery
  • advising patients about spectacle magnification effects on gait
  • proposing either an additional intermediate add multifocal or distance single vision spectacles to active long-term multifocal wearers
  • and referring low vision patients for home hazard modification using the College’s falls team directory.

Get involved

Get involved and help reduce the incidence of vision related falls among vulnerable patients:

  • Get in touch with your local falls team, discuss ways in which you can support them, encourage referral in both directions.
  • Use our focus on falls presentation template to present to falls teams and other health and professionals involved with the falls care pathway in your community.
  • Use our falls checklist to consider the visual risk factors for falls when assessing your patients
  • Develop your knowledge using the Docet The ageing eye: Vision and falls course
  • You can also direct patients to our public health information website -

For further information or to provide feedback, please contact

Support for falls teams

Eyes right? Order a free vision checking toolkit

The College is working with the Thomas Pocklington Trust to distribute the easy-to-use Eyes Right toolkit for checking vision. Developed by occupational therapist, Suzy England, it can be used by anyone but is especially useful for those working in a community setting. The toolkit includes a flip chart with pages suitable for reading close to and in the distance, an occluder to cover one eye while the other is being tested, a tape measure and clear instructions on how to carry out a test. Please note this is just an indicative sight test and does not replace a full eye examination or find underlying eye conditions. 

Email: to order a free toolkit. 

Find a local optometrist

Falls teams with concerns about a patients eye sight, should encourage them to book an eye examination. Use our member directory to find a College member practising in your area, many have dementia-friendly practices.