Poor Vision and Senior Falls: An Ophthalmologist’s Perspective

The Doctor Weighs In
6 min readNov 26, 2020

By: https://thedoctorweighsin.com/poor-vision-senior-falls/

Aging is associated with an increased risk of poor vision. Poor vision, in turn, increases the risk for senior falls. Vigilance is needed to prevent both.

Photo source: iStock

More than ever, seniors need to be vigilant about their vision. Not only is it an essential sense, but poor vision presents another risk: preventable falls. Unfortunately, we live in the age of COVID which makes it harder for older adults to maintain their health, including their eye health. This article reviews the reasons why it is more important than ever that seniors get regular vision care.

The health risks of social isolation

There are millions of older adults living alone, a grim fact amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic. Family members are visiting older relatives less. And when they do, they may keep their distance to limit virus exposure and spread.

Seniors are also frequenting their doctors less, to maintain distance and safety during this time.

Although social distancing measures are necessary, older adults living alone face challenges to their health and well-being. In fact, self-isolation increases feelings of loneliness, a risk factor for other medical conditions.

It may also increase the risk and consequences of falls in this population. Isolated elders may be unable to get up after a fall leading to prolonged time on the floor and a delay in getting medical care. As a consequence, they can develop preventable complications, including the following:

  • skin breakdown
  • dehydration
  • kidney failure

The link between falls and poor eyesight

Deteriorating vision, reduced muscle mass (known as sarcopenia), and problems with balance often accompany aging. All of these factors contribute to the risk of falls in the elderly. In fact, falls are the leading cause of injuries for older people.

According to the National Council on Aging:

  • An older adult is treated in the emergency room every 11 seconds for a fall

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