Purpose: The aim of this study was to assess the performance-based visual ability among independently living elderly subjects and to investigate whether there was any association between visual ability and falls.
Subjects and methods: A total of 298 randomly selected subjects aged 70–85 years were invited for an examination including monocular and binocular visual acuity (VA), contrast sensitivity (CS), stereoscopic vision, and monocular visual fields (VFs), which were integrated to estimate the binocular VFs. Type of lenses used in their habitual correction was noted.
Results: Out of the 212 subjects who were examined, 38% reported at least one fall and 48% of these reported at least two falls during the last 2 years. Most subjects had normal results; 90% had normal binocular VA, 85% had normal binocular CS, and ~80% had positive stereopsis. Twenty-nine subjects had VF defects in the lower quadrants of the binocular VF, and 14 of these reported at least one fall. A significant association was seen between one fall or more and VA better eye, the odds ratio (OR) was 2.26, P=0.013, and between recurrent falls and lack of stereoscopic vision, the OR was 3.23, P=0.002; no other functional test showed any significant association with recurrent falls. The ORs were 1.58 for worse binocular VA, 0.60 for worse binocular CS, and 0.71 for non-normal stereoscopic vision for at least one fall, but wide confidence intervals made it difficult to draw firm conclusions about any association. Bifocal or progressive spectacles were worn by 71% with no significant difference between fallers and nonfallers (P=0.078).
Conclusion: Even though ~40% of the total sample had experienced one or more falls, the only visual function test significantly associated with falls were VA better eye, lack of stereoscopic vision, and recurrent falls. Our results suggest that there may be more powerful predictors of falling than decreased visual ability. © 2016 Källstrand-Eriksson et al.
Auckland: Dove Medical Press , 2016. Vol. 10, 1265-1273 p.