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The Surprising Costs and Side Effects of Poor Senior Vision

September 25, 2012

Falls caused by aging vision problems cost billions of dollars for US Health Care.

The importance of healthy senior vision is no secret. The functionality and clearness of our eyes is not only vital for important everyday tasks such as driving, running errands and getting around, but for seniors especially, healthy vision is sometimes the key to overall health and well-being.

Studies have shown that 6.5 million Americans over the age of 65 have severe visual impairment, and it is expected that this number will double by 2030 with the country’s aging population.  And the worst part? A study done by the Centers for Disease Control found that 1.8 million seniors not living in senior homes reported that their visual impairment problems caused serious side effects, such as difficulty dressing, bathing and even walking around the house.

It has also been well documented that seniors who have poor vision caused by cataracts or age-related macular degeneration (AMD) are much more likely to fall, prompting a large number of problems that could affect their health and well-being.

Because many seniors are often frail as it is, a simple fall out of bed or tumble out the door can cause serious trauma, especially among those who are dealing with pre-existing age-related problems, such as diabetes or heart disease. Therefore, it’s easy to see why the aftermath following a fall can not only be dangerous to seniors, but prompts serious costs for our nation’s health care system.

The Danger and Cost of Falls

According to an article written by Glenn D. Braunstein, M.D., Chairman of the Department of Medicine at Cedars-Sinai, one in three adults older than the age of 65 fall each year. And while not all of them are hurt during these instances, falls still remain the most common cause of admissions to hospitals from trauma. In fact, between 1993 and 2003, falls among seniors older than 65 increased by 65%.

With more than 2.2 million falls among seniors in 2009 alone, the admittance and medical costs of those patients is estimated to be more than $28 billion.

Preventing Falls for Seniors

While there are plenty of things that seniors can do in their own homes in order to prevent injury or falls, the best possible thing you can do for your health and vision is to have a thorough eye examination to identify any lingering problems. Cataracts are one of the leading vision problems in adults over the age of 40, and recent studies have found that having cataract surgery can help to reduce incidence of hip fractures in seniors.

Having the wrong prescription lenses can also be a major cause of falls among older adults. For instance, bifocals or trifocals can be dangerous for seniors when looking to walk down stairs. Therefore, make sure that your vision prescriptions are up to date and offer you the safest vision possible.

If you want to improve your vision and reduce instances of falls or injury caused by vision impairment, be sure to contact OCLI today. Whether you are suffering from cataracts, AMD or poor vision, we can help you come up with a solution to ensure that your vision problem does not affect your greater health.


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