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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.

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School of Public Health, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia.



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


Randomized, controlled trial.


Community in Sydney, Australia.


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


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.


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


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).


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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