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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.

Get involved

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

For further information or to provide feedback, please contact policy@college-optometrists.org

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: policy@college-optometrists.org to order a free toolkit. 
Update March 2021: these are currently out of stock. The Thomas Pocklington Trust will send copies of the toolkit to everyone registered to their waiting list.

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.  

Add your details to the falls directory 
We have developed a falls directory and are encouraging our members to make contact with their local falls team when they identify risk. Please add your contact details to the directory or update them as necessary.  

Falls directory

Falls Directory

Our falls directory includes details of falls services teams throughout the UK.

Falls Directory listing - submission form

If you would like to be included in the Falls directory, please complete this Falls directory listing submission form.

 

Other resources of interest

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