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Preventing Falls in Older Adults Through Comprehensive Vision Care

IMG_4798In children and young adults, a simple fall often results in little more than a bruise or sprain. For older adults, however, the effects can be much more serious.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ranks falls as the leading cause of death from an injury in older adults. Many of these deaths are the result of hip fractures, with almost 10 percent of patients age 50 and older dying within a month of hip surgery. For those with an underlying medical condition, the mortality rate doubles.

Staying active, installing proper lighting and eliminating hazards such as rugs and floor clutter are important first steps in preventing falls. The CDC also recommends annual vision exams to ensure older adults have adequate vision including clarity, full peripheral fields and depth perception.

The Importance of a Comprehensive Vision Exam

While a 20/20 visual acuity test is a critical component of any vision exam, it doesn’t provide a comprehensive assessment of a person’s visual processing skills. These skills can deteriorate with age, causing older adults to unknowingly experience decreased depth perception, contrast sensitivity and spatial awareness – all of which lead to an increased risk of falls. Individuals may also start experiencing bothersome symptoms that make it difficult for them to walk safely, including dizziness, blurred vision and double vision.

The key to uncovering these visual deficiencies is to schedule an exam with a developmental/neuro-optometry practice such as Northampton Vision Specialists. During a typical appointment, patients receive a comprehensive evaluation that includes a thorough eye health evaluation and eyesight assessment, as well as a series of visual test to measure skills such as depth perception, eye teaming, peripheral vision and spatial awareness. “The goal is to make sure every patient can function optimally in their everyday lives,” Dr. Theresa Ruggiero said.

When visual deficiencies are found, a combination of vision therapy and specialized lenses (sometimes with prisms) can be highly effective in developing missing visual skills and ensuring that adults have the balance, coordination and visual skills needed to navigate the world safely.

Northampton Vision Specialists provides comprehensive vision services to patients of all ages. For more information on developmental optometry, or to schedule an appointment, please contact our office.

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