According to the 2016 National Health Interview Survey, 25.5 million adults in the U.S. live with vision loss. Those with vision loss are nearly twice as likely to experience falls as those with normal vision. Vision loss affects almost all aspects of daily life.
If your vision is impaired, it may be difficult to perform everyday tasks, or even to navigate safely around your own home. Loss of vision leads to an increased risk of tripping or falling on stairs or uneven surfaces. Fears of falling or injuries can make you feel anxious or isolated.
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Common Signs of Vision Loss
For some people, vision loss is a gradual process, so it is easy to overlook symptoms. If you experience any of these following symptoms, see an eye doctor right away:
- Floaters, flashing lights, or the appearance of gray shadows in your vision
- Sudden loss of vision in one eye
- Pain or persistent eye discomfort
- Eye injury
- Red eye — especially if only one eye is red
- Blurred vision
Friends, family members, and caregivers can help care for a loved one's vision by looking for an increase in:
- Falls or hesitation when walking
- Running into things or knocking objects over
- Knocking objects over or missing them when reaching for them
- Squinting or tilting their head when trying to focus
- Avoiding routine vision-based activities such as reading
Dealing With Vision Loss
Unfortunately, some older adults suffer vision loss beyond the normal, age-related vision changes. Eye health conditions such as macular degeneration, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy can lead to varying degrees of vision loss. Your doctor can recommend appropriate treatment options. Also, the doctor may suggest devices such as:
- Spectacle-mounted magnifiers.
- Handheld and stand magnifiers.
- Handheld or spectacle-mounted telescopes.
- Video magnification
The Risk of a Fall
One out of four older adults will fall each year in the United States. Falls are the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries among those aged 65 and older. Some falls are the result of normal changes of aging.
However, illnesses, physical conditions, and the side effects of some medications can upset your balance. Visual factors, such as poor depth perception, limited side vision, extreme sensitivity to lights or glare, and reduced color perception, can contribute to the risk of falls.
Strategies to Reduce the Risk of Falls
If your vision is impaired, it is important to identify potential hazards and reduce the risk of falls. There are many strategies to reduce your anxiety and help you continue with everyday tasks. Here are some tips:
- Arrange your furniture so that there is a clear path for walking
- If you need to hold onto furniture, do not use furniture with wheels
- Be sure that rugs and carpets are well-maintained and slip-resistant
- Watch out for or clearly mark elevation changes in flooring
- Make sure all rooms and hallways are brightly lit and light switches easily accessible
- Install motion sensor lights or night lights to help you navigate in the dark
- Store items in accessible places to avoid using step stools
To learn more about how life in a community like Jacaranda Trace can help you live your best life in retirement, contact us today.