FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
For more information:
Phone: (614) 464-2020 ext. 105
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Prevent Blindness Supports
National Falls Prevention Awareness Day on Sept. 23
COLUMBUS (Sept. 22, 2015) – Tomorrow, Sept. 23 marks the beginning of the fall season and the Ohio Affiliate of Prevent Blindness (PBO) has joined the efforts of the Ohio Department of Aging’s STEADY U Ohio initiative to observe National Falls Prevention Awareness Day. According to the Ohio Department of Health (ODH), falls are the leading cause of injury-related hospitalization and death among Ohioans age 65 and older. It is critical to bring attention to this serious issue.
Our risk for falling increases with age and, unfortunately, those with impaired vision are even more likely to experience falls and injuries. Visual impairment, which can include decreased visual acuity, contrast sensitivity, depth perception, and/or visual field, has been found to influence the risk of falls. For example, vision impairment can affect balance and increases the risk of tripping or misjudging steps, stairs or curbs. Based on data from the 2014 “Vision Problems in the U.S.” study, more than 1.9 million Ohioans over the age of 40 have refractive error -- in addition, nearly 1.5 million Ohioans have also been diagnosed with cataract, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration, and are at risk for vision loss.
PBO, through the Aging Eye Public Private Partnership, is a proud partner in the STEADY U Ohio initiative. STEADY U is a statewide, 360-degree approach to falls prevention initiated by Governor John R. Kasich that engages individuals, families, communities, businesses, health care providers and others in battling the epidemic of falls among older Ohioans.
“One in three older adults will fall this year, and for people with impaired vision, that risk goes up significantly,” said Bonnie K. Burman, Sc.D., Director of the Ohio Department of Aging and co-chair of Ohio’s Aging Eye Public Private Partnership. “A single fall can be life-changing, not just for the individual who falls, but for his or her family and friends as well. However, falls are not a normal part of aging or vision loss, and most falls can be prevented by knowing the risks and having a plan to remove or minimize them.”
STEADY U and the Ohio Injury Prevention Partnership, Ohio Older Adult Falls Prevention Coalition coordinated by ODH recommend small changes to your home, habits and health to reduce your or your loved ones’ risk for falling.
· Home: Remove or secure throw rugs; improve lighting, especially near stairs; install grab bars in the bathroom; eliminate clutter; rearrange the home to make frequently used items easier to reach; add railings on both sides of stairs.
· Habits: Stay active or increase your physical activity to build muscle strength and improve balance; slow down and think through tasks; stay hydrated and eat a well-balanced diet that includes calcium-rich foods.
· Health: Ask your doctor about a falls risk assessment and talk about medicines you take and whether they increase your risk for falls; have your hearing and vision checked annually, and use your corrective lenses and hearing aids as prescribed.
“Because people with vision impairments are more than twice as likely to fall as those without, keeping a regular schedule of eye examinations with an eye care professional can help avoid debilitating falls in the future,” said Sherry Williams, President & CEO of the Ohio Affiliate of Prevent Blindness. “We hope that by alerting the public to the dangers of falls, as well as educating them on ways to avoid them, we can help prevent unnecessary injuries. And, maintaining healthy vision is one way to accomplish this!”
For more information about National Falls Prevention Awareness Day or general eye health, please contact Prevent Blindness at (800) 301-2020 or visit pbohio.org.
About Prevent Blindness
Founded in 1908, Prevent Blindness is the nation's leading volunteer eye health and safety organization dedicated to fighting blindness and saving sight. The Ohio Affiliate of Prevent Blindness is Ohio’s leading volunteer nonprofit public health organization dedicated to prevent blindness and preserve sight. We serve all 88 Ohio counties, providing direct services to more than 800,000 Ohioans annually and educating millions of consumers about what they can do to protect and preserve their precious gift of sight. For more information or to make a contribution, call 800-301-2020. Or, visit us on the web at www.pbohio.org or facebook.com/pbohioand Twitter at https://twitter.com/#!/PB_Ohio.