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Wearing bifocals may be unsafe for seniors

Elderly patients who wear bifocals or progressive lenses may benefit in having a second pair of "distance only" glasses for use when going outdoors. For those who are at a high risk of falling, the distance only glasses would help lessen the problems of depth perception and contrast sensitivity that can be associated with progressive lenses or bifocals. In a recent study, those adults who replaced their multifocal glassess with single-vision glasses for walking and outdoor activities reduced their incidence of falling by 40%. However, researchers did find that the second pair of single vision glasses proved most beneficial to more active participants. For those with below average outdoor activity a 29% increase in falls was noted. This could be attributed to over-confidence in the switch to the single vision lenses or it could be that switching the glasses proved too confusing. Researchers concluded that eyecare providers should carefully consider the activity level of their patients before prescribing proper eyewear.* Elise Ervin Staff Writer

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