Winter walking can already be treacherous without having to factor in face masks, but that’s the reality this year. Getting outdoors will also be more important than ever.
Sudden or gradual vision loss can greatly compromise independence as we age, including through the risk of frequent falls. Adding in masks which can restrict vision and cause glasses to fog up just makes the situation that much trickier to navigate.
Don’t Look Down
Anyone living with Parkinson’s disease or diabetic sensory neuropathy will have balance issues which can become worse when walking in snowy and icy conditions.
It might seem counter-intuitive, but looking down when you walk, especially if you have balance issues, can be the worst thing to do, particularly when a mask is added into the equation. Instead, look ahead and around you, making sure you know what’s coming.
Masks & Eyewear
A number of simple tips can help reduce the problems that anyone who wears glasses can experience when a face mask is also necessary:
- Snug fit – a good fit of the mask to your face is very important, as it will limit leaks.
- Secure fit – use your frames to sit on top of the face mask, helping to secure it in place.
- Tape it – if you or a loved one struggles with this one, using a skin-safe adhesive (tape) can help fix a mask in place for an outing.
- Avoid applying any sprays or solutions to your glasses to prevent fogging. Even though this may be tempting, you run the risk of permanently damaging your lenses and frames.
If you’re out walking, you obviously want to be sure you have boots or footwear with a good grip. There are many options available now for boots with built-in ice grips as well as slip-on versions that will stay in place.
For many seniors, a complicating factor comes in the form of medications, many of which can cause dry eye which in turn can lead to impaired vision.
Advancing vision problems can intensify the difficulty of common daily tasks, increase the risk of depression, increase medication errors, and lead to double the risk of falls as well as quadruple the risk of hip fractures.
Regular Eye Exams
While changes in vision are a natural part of aging, some loss of vision can be avoided through regular eye exams and care under a qualified optometrist. If you or an aging parent has been putting off that eye exam, take this as an important reminder for sticking to regular appointments.