Too many older people in Yorkshire falling due to poor eye sight
The majority of people in Yorkshire are unaware of the link between poor eyesight and falls in older people, according to new research* by the College of Optometrists, released during this year’s Falls Awareness Week (June 17-21).
Nearly half of those surveyed said they had an older friend, parent or relative who had fallen, yet only 30% knew that poor vision was a major cause of falls.
Up to one in three people aged over 65 will experience a fall each year – often at significant cost to their health and quality of life – as well as the public purse. Falls are estimated to cost the NHS up to £4.6m a dayi.
Fewer than 4% of people questioned said their parents’ deteriorating eyesight was a cause for concern.
West Yorkshire based optometrist Moin Valli, managing director of the Valli Group of Opticians in Huddersfield and Calderdale, said that failing eyesight should not be seen as an inevitable consequence of ageing: “I am concerned that public awareness of the link between poor vision and falls is so low. Suffering a fall can have an extremely debilitating effect on the quality of an older person’s life and the lives of those around them. Being aware of changes in vision is particularly important for those older people at higher risk of falling or who have fallen before.”
The research also showed that over half of those surveyed in Yorkshire (52%) didn’t know that their parents may be entitled to an NHS sight test in their own home or care home and 22% didn’t realise that sight tests for over 60s are free.
Moin added: “At the Valli Group we do all we can to promote the importance of regular eye tests to older people in our communities. This includes our free domiciliary service, if patients are unable to come to us, through illness or disability for example, we are happy to visit them in their home or care home to carry out a thorough eye test.”
He said there were some simple steps you can take to reduce the risk of vision related falls: “If you have recently had a big change to your spectacle prescription, you may be given a compromise prescription to make it easier for you to get used to it. You should only wear your new spectacles at home until you are used to them.
“If you have been told that you should wear spectacles for distance (television, walking about etc), you may be better to keep them on when you are walking outside the home as this could make you less likely to fall.
|“Some people are more likely to fall if they walk about wearing bifocals or varifocals, even if they are used to them. So, if you take part in regular outdoor activities it may be best to have a pair of distance spectacles to wear when walking about outdoors or when you are in unfamiliar places. If your distance vision is good without your spectacles it may be best to take your bifocals or varifocals off for walking about. Your optometrist will be able to advise you about this.”As part of the Falls Awareness Week campaign carers and people supporting older people are encouraged to ensure that those at risk of falling are receiving regular eye examinations.Jane Ashcroft, Chief Executive of Anchor, which has almost 1000 care homes and retirement properties around the country, said it was important that people had regular check-ups. “We are keen to lend our support to any campaign which encourages greater understanding about what causes falls and how to prevent them.”As part of the campaign, the College of Optometrists has published patient information about falls prevention and advice for maintaining good eye health as we age, available here: www.lookafteryoureyes.orgThe Valli Group is an award winning, independent company run by Moin and his wife Rachel. They have six opticians’ practices in Honley, Lockwood, Almondbury, Meltham, Mytholmroyd and Hebden Bridge, Valli Corporate Eye Care and Valli Home Eye Care, which specialises in providing domiciliary eye care services.1. *The research was carried out by Opinion Matters in April 2013. Opinion Matters surveyed 1000 people across the country with a parent or parents aged 65 or over.2. The College of Optometrists is a member of The Falls Alliance. By working together, those who sign up to the Alliance are better placed to achieve the common goals of preventing falls and fractures and, specifically, reducing the rate of hospital admissions for hip fractures and for falls-related injuries among older people. Find out more here http://www.nos.org.uk/3. The College of Optometrists is the professional, scientific and examining body for optometry in the UK, working for the public benefit. Supporting its 13,000 members in all aspects of professional development, the College provides pre-registration training and assessment, continuous professional development opportunities, and advice and guidance on professional conduct and standards, enabling members to serve their patients well and contribute to the wellbeing of local communities.
i According to research carried out by Age UK in 2010: