• One in three individuals aged 65 and older will fall each year and may represent the most serious problem facing elderly individuals in the United States (American Geriatric Society, 2001; Gillespie et al., 2009).
  • Visual impairment is one of the biggest known risk factors for falls and hip fractures (Chou, Dana, & Bougatsos, 2009; Kulmala et al., 2008; Rose & Maffulli, 1999). Acute illness only accounts for 10% of falls in older adults, with the remaining 90% being due to the presence of multiple risk factors such as vision loss and other sensory issues (Nnodim & Alexander, 2005).
  • Vision loss can decrease visual acuity, contrast sensitivity, glare sensitivity, color discrimination, and the ability to adapt in different lighting conditions (de Boer et al., 2004; Gadgil et al., 2010; Ivers et al., 1998; Riddering, 2008). By themselves, each of these vision impairments may cause an individual not to see hazards that are present, thereby causing a fall, stumble, or trip.
  • In 2000, there were approximately 10,300 fatal falls and 2.6 million medically treated non-fatal fall related injuries, such as hip fractures (Dell et al., 2008; Stevens et al., 2006). This translates into $0.2 billion spent on fatal falls and $19 billion for non-fatal injuries, with 63% of non-fatal injuries being spent on hospitalizations (Stevens et al., 2006). Further, while hip fractures account for 35% of non-fatal injuries, they account for 61% of the costs (Stevens et al., 2006).
  • When examining the costs of falls for the visually impaired, costs are found to increase with onset and severity; those with any degree of vision loss had 46.7% higher costs compared to patients without vision loss (Bramley et al., 2008). Individuals categorized with a moderate to severe vision loss experienced the same costs as those who are categorized as blind (Bramley et al., 2008).

 

 

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