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I got a very interesting news article in my email box this week from Sarah Hecker with Prevent Blindness America. It has important baby boomer news, including vital information for the beloved seniors in our lives. Her timing was perfect as SandwichINK is in the midst of a series of articles to help those boomers and seniors who, like me, have low vision issues. I wanted to share her news update with all of you.
In her email, she wrote:
Falls are the leading cause of both fatal and nonfatal injuries for those over the age of 65, and many can be attributed to poor vision. Prevent Blindness America has joined with the National Council on Aging in declaring Sept. 23, (the first day of fall) as National Falls Prevention Awareness Day. The goal is to help educate all of us on steps that can be taken to avoid the terrible effects from falls, either for themselves or loved ones.
It’s never too early to get an eye exam! In fact, vision loss can be lessened if eye diseases are detected and treated early. No matter what the age, all adults, especially those ages 40 and older, should ask themselves if they have had their eyes checked recently.
She also included a very interesting press release with boomer and senior news of interest to all of us in the Sandwich Generation:
CHICAGO (Sept. 21, 2010) – Every year, one in three Americans over the age of 65 falls. Many seniors suffer from major injuries, and unfortunately, falls are the leading cause of both fatal and nonfatal injuries in that age group. That is why Prevent Blindness America, a member of the Falls Free Coalition, joins Congress and more than 70 national organizations to declare Sept. 23, 2010 as National Falls Prevention Awareness Day in an effort to raise awareness of the dangers of falls and educate the public on what they can do to protect themselves or their loved ones from falls.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that $19 billion is spent annually on treating the elderly for the adverse effects of falls including $12 billion for hospitalization, $4 billion for emergency department visits, and $3 billion for outpatient care, with most of those expenses paid for by Medicare. The amount is projected to skyrocket to $55 billion annually without dedicated falls prevention efforts.
In addition to other causes, poor vision may increase the risk of falls. In fact, the Los Angeles Latino Eye Study showed that those with impaired central vision were at almost three times higher risk for falls with injury than those with no visual impairment. Eye diseases, such as age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in older adults, effect central vision. In addition, seniors who had impaired peripheral vision, a common effect of eye diseases such as glaucoma, were almost 1.5 times at greater risk for falls with injury.
Prevent Blindness America strongly recommends that all adults learn how to care for the health of their eyes. This includes getting fully dilated eye exams by an eyecare professional. Many people are not aware that they have an eye disease until they notice their vision changing.
“By detecting and treating eye disease early, vision loss can be greatly diminished, and therefore, help to decrease the risk of falls,” said Hugh R. Parry, president and CEO of Prevent Blindness America.
Signs of possible eye problems include:
- Unusual trouble adjusting to dark rooms;
- Difficulty focusing on near or distant objects;
- Squinting or blinking due to unusual sensitivity to light or glare;
- Change in color of iris;
- Red-rimmed, encrusted or swollen lids;
- Recurrent pain in or around eyes;
- Double vision;
- Dark spot at the center of viewing;
- Lines and edges appear distorted or wavy;
- Excess tearing or "watery eyes";
- Dry eyes with itching or burning; and
- Seeing spots, ghost-like images.
For more information about National Falls Awareness Day, general eye health or details on Medicare benefits in relation to vision care services, please contact Prevent Blindness America at (800) 331-2020 or preventblindness.org.
About Prevent Blindness America
Founded in 1908, Prevent Blindness America is the nation's leading volunteer eye health and safety organization dedicated to fighting blindness and saving sight. Focused on promoting a continuum of vision care, Prevent Blindness America touches the lives of millions of people each year through public and professional education, advocacy, certified vision screening and training, community and patient service programs and research. These services are made possible through the generous support of the American public. Together with a network of affiliates, divisions and chapters, Prevent Blindness America is committed to eliminating preventable blindness in America. For more information, or to make a contribution to the sight-saving fund, call 1-800-331-2020. Or, visit us on the Web at preventblindness.org or facebook.com/preventblindness.