Researchers have come out with findings that suggest that programs to help the elderly see more clearly had better be kept on hold till further study.
The researchers led by Professor Robert Cumming of the department of epidemiology and geriatric medicine at Sydney's Concord Hospital, examined more than 600 people aged over 70, who received new glasses or underwent corrective surgery.
They found that these elders were 57 per cent more likely to fall than those who did not receive treatment to enhance their vision. They were also 74 percent more likely to sustain fractures.
Reseachers give one explanation as the study participants needing a long time to adjust to new glasses .
Writes Cumming in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society : 'New glasses were the most common intervention in the study and many of the subjects who received new eye glasses had major changes in their prescription.
'This could explain the findings. Old, frail people may need a considerable period of time to adjust to new eyeglasses and could be at greater risk of falling during this time.
'In frail, older people, comprehensive vision and eye assessment, with appropriate treatment, does not reduce and may even increase the risk of falls and fractures.'
In retrospect ,Cumming advices doctors to prescribe more conservatively and patients to be cautious during adaptation to new eye glasses.
More than 1000 people above the age of 65 die from falls every year in Australia and more than 45,000 are admitted to hospital.
Thirty per cent of people aged 65 and older fall at least once a year and falls account for 54 per cent of injury-related hospitalisations for this age group.