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. This prompted us to investigate ways in which we could reduce vision-related falls and encourage better connections between local falls services and community optometrists.
We have been working with the Local Optical Committee Support Unit (LOCSU) to support local optical committees (LOCs) and local eye health networks (LEHNs) in prioritising falls awareness. Our activities have included:
- publishing Focus on Falls - a report outlining and promoting the pivotal role that improving vision has in preventing falls
- briefing parliamentarians, key stakeholders and falls leads in the four nations
- encouraging the development of a falls and vision pathway and recommending improved falls provision in the Map of Medicine for Low Vision
- working with Thomas Pocklington Trust to distribute an easy-to-use tool for screening older people for poor vision to falls services teams across the UK. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information and to place an order
- working with DOCET to incorporate findings from the report in their Ageing Eye CET materials
- encouraging falls team to register on the UK-wide falls directory. This will help our members make contact, provide support and refer any patients identified as needing falls teams services.
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