Shop RNIB Donate now

Reduce your risk of falls

Information and guidance on how to reduce the risk of falling in the garden, home and elsewhere for blind and partially sighted people.

As we get older, incidences of sight loss increase.

This may be caused by normal ageing of the eye, an eye condition, another health condition such as stroke or dementia.

Although anyone maybe at risk of falling, it is important to be aware that people with sight loss are more likely to fall and have multiple falls than those without sight loss of similar age.

Eye checks

You may not be aware you are developing sight loss until it has a significant impact. However, 50 per cent of sight loss is avoidable. Early diagnosis and treatment are essential for preventing unnecessary sight loss.

Top tips:

  • Get your eyes examined every two years or as often as advised by an optometrist/optician.
  • If you notice any changes in your vision, make an appointment with your optician to discuss your concerns.
  • If you have a disability or illness which makes it difficult to leave your house, you're entitled to an eye examination at home.
  • If you feel a traditional letter chart is unsuitable, let the optician know as they have alternative ways to examine your vision.
  • If you need glasses, ask the optometrist/optician to recommend the most appropriate glasses for you.
  • If you wear glasses, follow the four Cs: make sure your glasses are Correct, Current, Clean and Comfortable to make the most of your vision.

Making simple changes in your home

Half of all falls happen at home. These simple changes can reduce the risk of falls if you have sight loss.

  • Utilise natural light where possible. Where there is too much glare or shadows, try controlling natural light with vertical blinds.
  • Consider improving light levels at the top and bottom stairs to reduce potential falls.
  • Use contrasting handrails, plain coloured carpet, edging on steps and stairs.
  • Have contrasting edging on steps and stairs.
  • Use brighter and bolder colours to create good colour contrast.
  • Keep things in set places and encourage a consistent clutter-free environment.

Other factors to consider

  • If you use your furniture as landmarks, and a visitor or carer must move it for access, ask them to move it back to its original position.
  • Clear up spillages immediately – water on floors can be difficult to see.
  • Replace or repair tripping hazards such as loose room dividers or frayed carpets.
  • Within the garden or outside the home, try to keep areas free of moss and fallen leaves (which become a hazard when wet), replace broken slabs.
  • Wear sunglasses to address problems with glare caused by bright sunlight. Remember low set winter sun reflecting on ice and snow can cause problems with glare too.

Support from RNIB

Our Sight Loss Advice Service can give you practical guidance on living with sight loss. Get in touch by calling our Helpline on 0303 123 9999. We also have many products that can make everyday tasks easier in our Online Shop.

If you're a professional who works in social care and would like to know more about how to improve your support for older people with sight loss, our Older People and Complex Needs Team can offer you training which is tailored to your needs.

Help from social services

Your local authority can provide assessments to identify aids, adaptations and rehabilitation services that can help you continue to live independently. Find out more about accessing social care in England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland.

Support from the Thomas Pocklington Trust

Have a look at the Best Practice Guide for Housing Design, a guide by Thomas Pocklington Trust. It contains lots of helpful information on improving homes of people with sight loss.

Support from the NHS

NHS England

The Falls Prevention page provides information on how to reduce your risk of having a fall, including making simple changes to your home and doing exercises to improve your strength and balance.

NHS inform Scotland

The Preventing falls page provides information on how to reduce your risk of falling at home and what to do if you have a fall.

If you're a professional who works in social care and would like to know more about how to improve your support for older people with sight loss, our Older People and Complex Needs Team can offer you training which is tailored to your needs.