‘Watch your step’ during Falls Awareness Week

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Monday, June 17th, 2013
Too many older people in Northern Ireland are falling due to poor eye sight.

Brian McKibbin from Lee Opticians

New research by the College of Optometrists reveals a lack of awareness of the link between falls and poor vision. The majority of people in Northern Ireland are unaware of the link between poor eyesight and falls in older people, according to new research by the College of Optometrists, released in the run up to this year’s Falls Awareness Week (21st – 24th June). Nearly half of those surveyed said they had an older friend, parent or relative who had fallen, yet only 28% knew that poor vision was a major cause of falls. While up to one in three people aged over 65 will experience a fall each year – often at significant cost to their health and quality of life. Fewer than five per cent of people questioned said their parent’s deteriorating eyesight was a cause for concern. Brian McKibbin, optometrist at Lee Opticians, Warrenpoint advised, “Regular eye examinations are essential to identify problems which can contribute to falls for example, blurred vision, poor depth perception, poor peripheral (side) vision or age-related conditions such as cataracts, so that the appropriate action can be taken to manage, correct or refer for further investigation.” Dr Susan Blackeney, clinical adviser to the College of Optometrists said, “We are concerned that public awareness of the link between poor vision and falls is so low. Suffering a fall can have an extremely debilitating effect on the quality of an older person’s life and the lives of those around them. “Being aware of changes in vision is particularly important for those older people at higher risk of falling or who have fallen before.” The research also showed that two thirds of those surveyed in Northern Ireland (67%) didn’t know that their parents may be entitled to an NHS sight test in their own home, or care home and 24% didn’t realise that sight tests for over 60s are free. The College is encouraging carers and people supporting older people to ensure that people who are at risk of falling are receiving regular eye examinations. For more information contact Lee Opticians, tel 028 4175 3030 or see www.leeopticians.com
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