National Falls Prevention Awareness Day Sept. 23

September 22, 2011

Staff Report

CHICAGO — More than one-third of people age 65 and older fall each year, and those who fall once are two to three times more likely to fall again, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). These falls can result in serious injuries, and even death. In fact, falls are the leading cause of both fatal and nonfatal injuries for senior citizens. Yet, many falls can be prevented through a number of steps — including regular eye care.

Prevent Blindness America, the nation’s oldest eye health and safety organization, joins the Falls Free Coalition to declare Sept. 23 as National Falls Prevention Awareness Day in an effort to raise awareness of the dangers of falls. The Falls Free Coalition consists of 34 states and 70 national organizations, professional associations and federal agencies dedicated to reducing fall-related injury and death among older adults.

Hugh R. Parry, president and CEO of Prevent Blindness America, said: “Falls can have a traumatic and devastating impact. But the good news is that many falls are preventable. By taking the necessary steps, including regular eye care, we can help to avoid these types of accidents.”

Those with vision impairment are more likely to experience falls and injuries. Visual impairment is the result of many factors including decreased visual acuity, contrast sensitivity, depth perception, and visual field has been found to influence the risk of falls. For example, visual impairment makes a person more likely to trip over objects they are unable to see in their walking path and uncertain about their movement because of unreliable or missing visual information about their surroundings.

In addition, the “Vision and Falls in Older People: Risk Factors and Intervention Strategies” study found that multifocal glasses can add to the risk of falls because the near-vision lenses impair distance-contrast sensitivity and depth perception in the lower visual field, reducing the ability of an older person to detect environmental hazards.

The CDC recommends the following steps that should be taken to prevent falls:

1. Begin a regular exercise program

2. Make your home safer

3. Have your health care provider review your medicines

4. Have your vision checked

For more about National Falls Prevention Awareness Day, general eye health or details on Medicare benefits in relation to vision care services, contact Prevent Blindness America at (800) 331-2020 or preventblindness.org.

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