Visually Impaired Individuals at Significant Greater Risk of Diminished Balance

Wear them if you need them!

UC Davis Health System Eye Center research has found that visually impaired individuals and those those who could benefit from glasses to achieve normal vision but don‰Ûªt wear glasses ‰ÛÓ have a significantly greater risk of diminished balance than individuals with normal vision.
The research suggests that vision may play an important role in calibrating the vestibular system, which includes the bones and soft tissue of the inner ear, to help optimize physical balance.

‰ÛÏWe know that vision and balance are highly integrated in the brain, but we don‰Ûªt fully understand the relative contributions of the visual, proprioceptive, and vestibular systems in maintaining balance and preventing falls, especially among the visually impaired,‰Û said Jeffrey R. Willis, an ophthalmology resident at UC Davis Health System Eye Center and lead author of the study.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, falls among older adults alone cost the U.S. health care system over $30 billion in 2010. One in three adults age 65 and older falls each year, and of those who fall, 20 percent to 30 percent suffer moderate to severe injuries that make it hard for them to get around or live independently, and increase their risk of early death.

‰ÛÏStudies should also address how poor vision may lead to lower levels of physical and balance activities, as well as on how vision-related fall prevention strategies can be integrated with other fall prevention strategies to more effectively limit falls in our society.‰ÛåÊ

I am not sure they needed a study that shows how we can become disoriented if we cannot see properly and that can lead to falls. Lesson – have your eyes checked and wear your glasses if prescribed!