Visual risk factors for falls in older people
Age Ageing (2006) 35 (suppl_2): ii42-ii45.
01 September 2006
Poor vision reduces postural stability and significantly increases the risk of falls and fractures in older people. Most studies have found that poor visual acuity increases the risk of falls. However, studies that have included multiple visual measures have found that reduced contrast sensitivity and depth perception are the most important visual risk factors for falls. Multifocal glasses may add to this risk because their near-vision lenses impair distance contrast sensitivity and depth perception in the lower visual field. This reduces the ability of an older person to detect environmental hazards. There is now evidence that maximising vision through cataract surgery is an effective strategy for preventing falls. Further randomised controlled trials are required to determine whether individual strategies (such as restriction of use of multifocal glasses) or multi-strategy visual improvement interventions can significantly reduce falls in older people. Public health initiatives are required to raise awareness in older people and their carers of the importance of regular eye examinations and use of appropriate prescription glasses.