We’re probably not the first to tell you that as we age, our bodies change. As we journey through the second half of our lives, our bodies undergo a series of changes, many of which occur subtly and often go unnoticed. At Victoria Lifeline, we work with older adults to help them age gracefully and safely. Knowing how our body is changing and how that may affect our future and safety is crucial for our well-being and independence. One such change that can have a significant impact on our lives is the gradual decline in our vision.
It is especially important to discuss this issue because of how slow and gradual the process can be. Older adults often time don’t even know their eyesight has worsened. It is estimated that roughly 75% of youth aged 12-19 know their eyesight is worsening and are able to self-report to their optometrist, while only 25% of older adults aged 55 years or older have done the same. By the age of 65, 1 in 9 Canadians develop irreversible vision loss and by age 75 this increases to 1 in 4.
The Subtle Changes We Overlook
Gradual shifts in vision can happen over time, and we might not even realize the extent of these changes until they start affecting our daily activities. Simple tasks like reading, walking around the house, or identifying obstacles can become more challenging due to worsening vision. These subtle changes can accumulate and lead to a higher risk of accidents and injuries, particularly falls.
People with vision loss become twice as likely to experience a fall and fall-related injuries such as serious hip fractures. According to the Alberta Association of Optometrists, Cataracts, age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma and presbyopia are common causes of vision impairment among older adults.
The Importance Of Regular Eye Checkups
Regular eye checkups are not just about updating prescriptions for our glasses or contact lenses. They serve as a way for us to be proactive in detecting potential issues early and allow us to implement timely interventions. These checkups allow optometrists to monitor the health of the eyes, identify any signs of disease, and recommend appropriate treatments or management strategies. For instance, routine eye exams can help catch conditions like the ones mentioned earlier in their early stages, allowing effective treatment before it’s too late.
Better Vision Can Help You Avoid Falls
Preventing serious injuries and hospitalization due to falls is one of the most compelling reasons to prioritize regular eye checkups for seniors. Falls are a leading cause of injury among seniors, often resulting in fractures, head injuries, and a decline in overall health. In Canada, 85% of injuries that result in hospitalization for seniors are due to falls. 95% of all hip fractures are also due to falls.
Why do these falls happen? Sometimes it is due to uncontrollable factors, but often times this isn’t the case. There are plenty of things that can be done to minimize the chances of an older adult experiencing a fall and its negative consequences. By addressing any vision problems promptly, seniors can significantly reduce their risk of falls and injuries. This, along with some other strategies like clearing clutter from the floor, focusing on your well-being, and using a Personal Emergency Response System to immediately alert somebody of a fall can significantly reduce your risk of falling and keep you living safe and independent at home.
Hopefully, now you have a better understanding of why regular eye checkups (and medical checkups of all kinds) are a vital part of a senior routine. They go beyond just maintaining clear vision; they play a crucial role in preventing future injuries and preserving your independence.
If you do not currently have an optometrist or need help making an appointment with a new doctor, our Senior Service Guide might be a great resource that can help you out!
This article is meant to be informational in nature and should not replace the advice of a trained healthcare professional or financial professional. What works for some individuals, might be harmful to others. Consult a professional before making any significant changes.
Blog by: Maor Tsitrin, Marketing & Communications Assistant