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Expert recommends conservative correction for elderly people's vision problems

Written by Agencies |Published : May 27, 2014 11:04 AM IST

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Just as fading vision can lead to accidents, seniors adjusting to recent vision interventions are likely to encounter difficulties finding their balance, says David B. Elliott, PhD, whose studies on senior optometry earned him the 2013 Glenn A. Fry Lecture Award. Elderly patients often experience difficulties adjusting to large changes in spectacle prescription, says Elliott, making bifocals and other dual-purpose lenses more of a challenge than a convenience for new patients.

To reduce the chance of distorted peripheral vision caused by magnification, Elliott recommends that optometrists begin with a risk assessment when treating seniors, and cautions against aggressive treatment. 'Indeed, if a patient reports no problems with vision but simply requests a new frame, 'If it ain't broke don't fix it' is an appropriate clinical maxim,' says Elliott. Progressive lenses or bifocals should be prescribed for seniors only when absolutely necessary, in his opinion, adding that optometrists would do best to avoid transitioning patients to them who have a history of falls or who have, until now, worn single vision lenses. (Read : 5 causes for double vision or diplopia)

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'Older frail people may have greater difficulty adapting to such changes and be at increased risk of falling during this adaptation period,' says Elliott. While seniors are prone to falls for many reasons, including muscle weakness and various disabilities associated with old age, vision problems are a leading cause, according to Elliott. Given this statistic, researchers are surprised to find only a negligible reduction in falls for patients receiving both surgical and medical interventions for vision problems, suggesting that an initial risk assessment could be of greater importance than previously thought. Healthy adults over age 65 are likely to fall at least once per year, and the risk increases exponentially with age. Falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries among elderly US citizens, according to the Center for Disease Control. Elliott's research appears in the June 2014 issue of The Journal of the American Academy of Optometry.

Source : AFP

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