Study finds people with vision loss from glaucoma at higher risk of falling

November 9, 2011

(Medical Xpress) -- A world-first Queensland University of Technology (QUT) study has found that people suffering from more extensive vision loss from glaucoma are at a higher risk of having a fall than those with better vision.

Dr. Alex Black from QUT's Faculty of Health, found 40 per cent of the 70 older adults with glaucoma who took part in the year-long study had a fall, with 20 per cent experiencing multiple falls over that period.

Dr. Black said the key finding of his study was that the strongest risk factor for falls among the glaucoma sufferers was more extensive loss in their lower .

"This is significant because it means we can now turn our attention to finding ways to help prevent these patients from having falls," he said.

"While it may sound like common sense that people with impaired vision would experience more falls than those with good vision, this was the first study that identified the particular type of glaucoma sufferer most at risk.

"Armed with this knowledge we can move onto educating patients so they can better understand the extent of their and its ramifications on their day to day living."

Dr. Black said there were a range of measures that could be introduced to help sufferers with lower peripheral reduce the likelihood of falls. These involved modifying , such as removing trip hazards from the home and improving lighting, as well as promoting behavioural change to reduce their high-risk activities.

"This involves things like exercising in good sunlight rather than at dawn or dusk and taking time when doing highly active activities such as bushwalking.

"Stairs and steps should be well-lit and outlined with contrasting tape or paint so they can be easily seen and people are best to take time to allow their eyes to adjust when walking from light to dark areas and vice-versa.

"Activities that maintain and promote balance and strength such as Tai Chi are also advised."

Dr. Black said the above advice was applicable to the general older population, in addition to those with vision impairment.

His research has been published in the November issue of Optometry and Vision Science, the official journal of the American Academy of Optometry is.gd/SbmSJK

He said eye diseases often develop gradually over time, and these can affect balance and perception of depth.

Dr. Black said at least one third of people aged over 65 suffered a fall each year, making falls one of the leading causes of injury-related hospital admissions among .

"It's important that have regular eye examinations with an optometrist to detect, monitor and treat any eye problems as they arise."

Explore further: World-first glaucoma gene discovery

More information:

Fast facts on falls:

• Falls account for more than 40 per cent of injury-related deaths, and one per cent of all deaths of older Australians
• Around 20 per cent of falls result in injury requiring medical treatment
• In 2002, more than 1,300 older Australians died as a result of a fall
• More than 55,000 older Australians were hospitalised for injuries sustained from falling during 1999-2000.

Related Stories

World-first glaucoma gene discovery

May 2, 2011
(Medical Xpress) -- An Australian research team led by Flinders University researchers has discovered two new genes that could open the way to new treatments for blinding glaucoma.

Recommended for you

Expert: Be concerned about how apps collect, share health data

October 20, 2017
As of 2016 there were more than 165,000 health and wellness apps available though the Apple App Store alone. According to Rice University medical media expert Kirsten Ostherr, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates ...

More teens than ever aren't getting enough sleep

October 19, 2017
If you're a young person who can't seem to get enough sleep, you're not alone: A new study led by San Diego State University Professor of Psychology Jean Twenge finds that adolescents today are sleeping fewer hours per night ...

Across Asia, liver cancer is linked to herbal remedies: study

October 18, 2017
Researchers have uncovered widespread evidence of a link between traditional Chinese herbal remedies and liver cancer across Asia, a study said Wednesday.

Eating better throughout adult years improves physical fitness in old age, suggests study

October 18, 2017
People who have a healthier diet throughout their adult lives are more likely to be stronger and fitter in older age than those who don't, according to a new study led by the University of Southampton.

Global calcium consumption appears low, especially in Asia

October 18, 2017
Daily calcium intake among adults appears to vary quite widely around the world in distinct regional patterns, according to a new systematic review of research data ahead of World Osteoporosis Day on Friday, Oct. 20.

New study: Nearly half of US medical care comes from emergency rooms

October 17, 2017
Nearly half of all US medical care is delivered by emergency departments, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM). And in recent years, the percentage of care delivered ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.