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.
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.