May 22, 2014

This May Be a Partial Cause of Falls by the Elderly

If you have diabetes and are among the elderly, be careful about the use of antidepressants. Yes, many of the elderly use antidepressants because of the depression they develop from the daily duties of diabetes.

Abnormal binocular vision, which is determined by the way our eyes work together as a team, changes as we age. According to Canada’s University of Waterloo, there is a correlation (not a causation) between this condition, general health and antidepressant use.

About 27 percent of adults in their 60's have an actual binocular vision or eye movement disorder. This increases to approximately 38 percent for those over 80 years of age. In the general population, about 20 percent suffer from a binocular disorder. A binocular disorder affects depth perception and this may increase the risk of falls.

The study looked at randomly selected records of 500 older patients over the age of 60 who received treatment at the school's on-campus clinic. Thirty to forty percent of the population is a high rate of incidence for any disorder. Unfortunately, this is the first study to quantify binocular vision loss with age and show a correlation with antidepressant use and general health.

Diabetes and thyroid disease are known to cause binocular vision problems, but this is the first study to correlate binocular vision disorders with overall general health. Other writers have discussed a possible association between certain antidepressant drugs and specific binocular vision disorders. The study author, Dr. Susan Leat, a professor at the School of Optometry and Vision Science at Waterloo says, "An association does not establish that one causes the other, but rather that they co-exist. It is possible that the effects of poor vision mean that people are more likely to take anti-depressants or make less healthy lifestyle choices."

While the study suggests that binocular vision disorders is higher than expected in the elderly, most binocular vision disorders are treatable with glasses, vision therapy, or occasionally surgery. It is recommended that people keep their glasses up-to-date with regular eye examinations. This will avoid large prescription changes and is a good way to maintain good vision, decrease risk of falls, and maintain a good quality of life as you age.

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