Our vision is an integral part of our balance system it helps navigate obstacles and potential hazards. It enables us to orientate to where our body and head are in relationship to the world around us.
As we age or with neurological disease our vision can change. This can affect our ability to judge steepness of stairs or curbs, avoid obstacles, take longer to adjust to changes in light and glare, all factors that could affect balance and cause falls.
It is important to take good care of our vision and important that we adapt to these changes, whether it is having cataracts or glaucoma treated, having regular eye tests or exercises to improve gaze stability.
It is important that we have regular eye tests and that if we have glasses we are wearing them correctly. It is also important to be aware that glasses could also cause a increased risk to balance and falls. People that where bifocals or graduated lens can be at an increased risk of falls as these could impair depth perception, contrast sensitivity and the ability to negotiate obstacles and hazards in our environment.
Walking or mobilising with out adequate lighting can increase the risk of falls. Adequate lighting enables us to accurately access and utilise all visual information we are seeing to balance effectively. If you have impairments with your other balance senses darkness can enhance these deficits. Remember at night time to turn on the light to reduce risk of falls.
Visual Field Loss
Following stroke or head injury our vision can be affected damage to the visual pathways within the brain. This can dramatically affect our safety in our environment and lead to an increase in falls and decreased awareness of our environment. Using scanning of your environment during gait re-education can help improve this. Other eye conditions such and Glaucoma or Cataracts also can lead to reduced safety and an increased risk of falls and need to be addresses with your GP.
Damage either peripheral or central to your inner ear can lead to a decrease in gaze stability when we move our heads and can lead to loss of balance and falls. Specialised exercises can help improve this.
Seeing clearly can help us navigate our environments safely, allowing us to miss obstacles, see depth of steps and curbs and prevent falls.