Fear of falling may cause social isolation in older adults with vision problems

December 11, 2012

Rockville, Md. -- A new study published in Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science found that between 40 to 50 percent of older adults with visually impairing eye disease limit their activities due to a fear of falling. Vision scientists warn that this protective strategy puts seniors at risk for social isolation and disability.

In the paper, "Activity Limitation Due to a Fear of Falling in Older Adults with Eye Disease," researchers report on their examination of patients with age-related macular degeneration (AMD), glaucoma and Fuchs corneal dystrophy, as compared to a control group of older adults with good vision. Of the three groups with visual limitations, the patients with Fuchs corneal dystrophy were the mostly like to report activity limitation due to fear of falling, followed by those with glaucoma and the AMD group.

"I expected all of the groups to limit their activities due to a fear of falling but I was a bit surprised that the group with Fuchs corneal dystrophy was the most likely to limit their activities," says Ellen E. Freeman, PhD, Department of Ophthalmology at the University of Montreal, Québec, Canada. "I was also surprised at how frequently people with eye disease reported limiting their activities due to fear of falling. Clearly, this is something that is affecting many people with eye disease."

The research team conducted a cross-sectional study of 345 patients (93 with AMD, 57 with Fuchs, 98 with glaucoma and 97 controls) from the ophthalmology clinics of Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital in Montreal. Questionnaires and vision tests were given to each patient. Only 16 percent of controls with normal vision reported activity limitation due to a fear of falling compared with the 40 to 50 percent of patients with eye disease.

Results also showed that people who reported activity limitation due to a fear of falling were older, were more likely to be females, had worse vision, were more likely to be depressed and had greater comorbidity.

Freeman points out that their findings are not only relevant to older patients with eye disease, but to their families, physicians and to those providing low vision rehabilitation services. "It is important to know more about which activities are being limited due to fear of falling. We can then develop and test interventions to help people feel more confident about their ability to safely do those activities," she says. " If we could develop a brief, effective intervention focused on select activities, I would like to see it offered in the clinical setting. Then, we could encourage people to see a low vision rehabilitation specialist if they want more training."

The research team concludes that older adults with eye disease should stay as mobile as safely possible to help prevent morbidity associated with a sedentary lifestyle, mobility disability and mortality.
-end-
The ARVO peer-reviewed journal Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science (IOVS) publishes results from original hypothesis-based clinical and laboratory research studies, as well as Reviews, Perspectives, and Special Issues. IOVS 2009 Impact Factor ranks No. 4 out of 45 among ophthalmology journals. The journal is online-only and articles are published daily.

The Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) is the largest eye and vision research organization in the world. Members include more than 12,500 eye and vision researchers from over 80 countries. ARVO encourages and assists research, training, publication and knowledge-sharing in vision and ophthalmology.

Visit us at:
Website: www.arvo.org
Twitter: www.twitter.com/#!/ARVOinfo
Facebook: www.facebook.com/ARVOinfo
Flicker: www.flickr.com/photos/ARVOinfo
YouTube: www.youtube.com/user/ARVOinfo

Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology

Related Glaucoma Articles from Brightsurf:

Monitoring glaucoma at home
Glaucoma is a chronic condition that affects cells at the back of the eye.

Study finds novel mechanism that may confer protection against glaucoma
A team of researchers from LSU Health New Orleans Neuroscience Center of Excellence and the University of Copenhagen provides the first evidence that patients with ocular hypertension may exhibit superior antioxidant protection that promotes resistance to the elevated intraocular pressure associated with glaucoma.

AI-supported test for very early signs of glaucoma progression
A new test can detect glaucoma progression 18 months earlier than the current gold standard method, according to results from a UCL-sponsored clinical trial.

New method gives glaucoma researchers control over eye pressure
Neuroscientists have developed a new method that permits continuous regulation of eye pressure without damage, becoming the first to definitively prove pressure in the eye is sufficient to cause and explain glaucoma.

Glaucoma care in prison inmates
Data fromĀ 82 prison inmates treated in a glaucoma clinic at an academic hospital were used in this observational study to report on how treatment and follow-up, including medication adherence, were are managed.

New glaucoma test to help prevent blindness
Researchers have identified 107 genes that increase a person's risk of developing the eye disease glaucoma, and now developed a genetic test to detect those at risk of going blind from it.

Air pollution linked to higher glaucoma risk
Living in a more polluted area is associated with a greater likelihood of having glaucoma, a debilitating eye condition that can cause blindness, finds a new UCL-led study in the UK.

Long-term statin use associated with lower glaucoma risk
A new study brings the connection between statin use and risk of glaucoma into sharper focus.

Health burden of glaucoma has risen worldwide
The health burden of glaucoma has continuously increased around the globe in the past 25 years, according to an Acta Opthalmologica study.

UAlberta scientists first to pinpoint a cause of pigmentary glaucoma
An international team of researchers has identified a gene responsible for the onset of pigmentary glaucoma, which may lead to new therapies for the condition.

Read More: Glaucoma News and Glaucoma Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.