Increasingly the public in Aotearoa are being encouraged to consider wearing face masks to help limit the spread of COVID-19.
Wearing a face mask is an important public health measure, but it also has the potential to impair vision because it occludes the lower peripheral vision, especially in people who wear glasses. The lower peripheral vision is an important sensory function that guides us when we walk and helps to stop us tripping or falling.
It is therefore essential – especially for the elderly – to consider how to reduce the risk of falling while wearing a face mask.
There are useful tips to consider in this article, ‘Face masks, vision, and risk of falls’, (www.bmj.com/content/bmj/371/bmj.m4133.full.pdf):
- Check your mask fits snugly around your nose and cheeks to reduce any visual impairment and fogging of glasses.
- Slow your walking pace to give you more time to consider what is immediately in front of you and what trip hazards lie ahead.
- If you wear glasses, consider adopting practices to help reduce fogging, like swimmers do with their goggles.