Dr. Paul Auerbach is the world's leading outdoor health expert. His blog offers tips on outdoor safety and advice on how to handle wilderness emergencies.See all posts »
Vision and Falls in Elders
In the past, I wrote about the impact of wearing bifocals on the risk of falls. The concept remains that having two different foci of vision that are easily confused while walking would cause a person to fall. What about other causes of diminished vision?
In an article entitled “Risk of Fractures Following Cataract Surgery in Medicare Beneficiaries” (Journal of the American Medical Association 2012;308(5):493-501), Victoria Tseng and colleagues sought to determine the association of cataract surgery with subsequent fracture risk in an elder population (U.S. Medicare beneficiaries). What they found was that patients who had cataract surgery (which presumably improved vision) had lower odds of hip fracture within one year after surgery compared with patients who had not undergone cataract surgery.
This makes total sense. So, to minimize falls, all hikers, climbers, riders, boaters and other persons vulnerable to tripping, slipping, or sliding should maximize their vision. This includes direct vision, peripheral vision, night vision, and vision in adverse environmental conditions. Techniques include proper single vision glasses or contact lenses, sun protection, keeping glasses dry and unfogged, and attending promptly and properly to anatomical and physiological eye problems.
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