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J Am Geriatr Soc. 2007 Feb;55(2):175-81.

Improving vision to prevent falls in frail older people: a randomized trial.

Author information

1
School of Public Health, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia. bobc@health.usyd.edu.au

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

To determine the efficacy of vision and eye examinations, with subsequent treatment of vision problems, for preventing falls and fractures in frail older people.

DESIGN:

Randomized, controlled trial.

SETTING:

Community in Sydney, Australia.

PARTICIPANTS:

Six hundred sixteen men and women aged 70 and older (mean age 81) recruited mainly from people attending outpatient aged care services.

INTERVENTIONS:

The intervention group received comprehensive vision and eye examinations conducted by a study optometrist. The optometrist arranged for new eyeglasses for 92 subjects and referred 24 for a home visit with an occupational therapist, 17 for glaucoma management, and 15 for cataract surgery. The control group received usual care.

MEASUREMENTS:

Falls and fractures during 12 months of follow-up were ascertained according to self-report using a monthly postcard system.

RESULTS:

Fifty-seven percent of subjects fell at least once during follow-up. Falls occurred more frequently in the group randomized to receive the vision intervention (65% fell at least once; 758 falls in total) than in the control group (50% fell at least once; 516 falls in total). The falls rate ratio using the negative binomial model was 1.57 (95% confidence interval (CI)=1.20-2.05, P=.001). Fractures were also more frequent in the intervention group (31 fractures) than the control group (18 fractures; relative risk from proportional hazards model 1.74, 95% CI=0.97-3.11, P=.06).

CONCLUSION:

In frail older people, comprehensive vision and eye assessment, with appropriate treatment, does not reduce, and may even increase, the risk of falls and fractures.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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