Falls More Common in Adults with Vision Impairments

Study finds loss of vision nearly doubles risk of falls after age 65

A University of Michigan review board oversaw a recent study that found a link between vision impairments (VI) in older adults and falls.

This study was the first to provide nationally representative data on the prevalence of fall‐related outcomes in older Americans with self‐reported VI. These findings demonstrate the need to treat avoidable VI and to develop interventions to prevent falls and fall‐related outcomes in this population.

With VI or blindness affecting one in every 11 Americans aged 65 or older, and the ongoing overall aging of the population, the number of older adults with VI is predicted to increase through at least 2050. VI is associated with lack of independence, poor subjective well‐being, and risk of falls.

In a given year, approximately one‐third of adults aged 65 and older will fall and VI more than doubles this risk. Falls are a substantial cause of morbidity and mortality. In 2015, were associated with annual medical costs in the United States of $50 billion.

The study found, through an analysis of data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Program, that 46.7% of adults aged 65 and older with self‐reported severe VI or blindness had fallen in the prior year, compared with 27.7% of controls.

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