Falls are a major cause for eye injuries in the elderly

The most common fear for family members when an elderly relative falls is broken bones. But eye injuries can be just as serious and debilitating. Home is the where most eye injuries occur, and slips and falls are among the most common type of home injuries. Slippery stairs, loose railings, or sharp edges on furniture can lead to painful falls and devastating eye injuries for seniors, as well as children and other household members.

October is Eye Injury Prevention Month and the American Academy of Ophthalmology (Academy) wants to remind seniors and their caregivers to be especially aware of their home environment and take preventive steps to lessen their risk of eye injury. "The most unexpected falls can cause the worst injuries," says Jeffrey Paul Edelstein, M.D., an ophthalmologist in Arizona and a clinical correspondent for the Academy. "I recently saw an elderly patient who fell out of bed early in the morning, striking her left eye socket on a chair leg. She could have suffered a blinding injury, but fortunately did not rupture her eye. She did suffer a traumatic fracture of the eyes socket, causing severe double vision. After undergoing surgery with an implant, she regained her vision, which improved her reading vision and depth perception and allowed her to continue living independently."

Approximately 2.5 million eye injuries occur every year. According to this year's Eye Injury Snapshot, an annual clinical survey of eye injuries across the U.S., of the more than 1 million eye injuries estimated to take place in and around the home, 11 percent of all eye injuries are caused by slips and falls.

"Family members are often concerned about their elderly relatives falling," said Dr. Edelstein. "For the sake of your loved ones, you should take the proper precautions to help prevent dangerous and potentially blinding accidents in the home."

Consider taking these safety steps around the home to diminish the risks of injuring your eyes:

-- Make sure that rugs and shower/bath/tub mats are slip-proof -- Secure railings so that they are not loose -- Cushion sharp corners and edges of furnishings and home fixtures

In the event you do suffer an eye injury, have an ophthalmologist examine the injury as soon as possible, even if the injury seems minor at first. Eye injuries can lead to long-term eye health problems, including the development of glaucoma and cataracts. Additional information regarding eye injury prevention and treatment can be found at www.geteyesmart.org.

About the American Academy of Ophthalmology

The Academy is the world's largest association of eye physicians and surgeons -- Eye M.D.s -- with more than 27,000 members worldwide. Eye healthcare is provided by three sources -- opticians, optometrists and ophthalmologists. It is the ophthalmologist, or Eye M.D., who can treat it all: eye diseases and injuries, and perform eye surgery. To find an Eye M.D. in your area, visit the Academy's Web site at www.aao.org.


American Academy of Ophthalmology


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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