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Purpose.: Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of irreversible visual impairment among older adults. This study explored the relationship between AMD, fall risk, and other injuries and identified visual risk factors for these adverse events.

Methods.: Participants included 76 community-dwelling individuals with a range of severity of AMD (mean age, 77.0 ± 6.9 years). Baseline assessment included binocular visual acuity, contrast sensitivity, and merged visual fields. Participants completed monthly falls and injury diaries for 1 year after the baseline assessment.

Results.: Overall, 74% of participants reported having either a fall or a non–fall–related injury. Fifty-four percent of participants reported a fall and 30% reported more than one fall; of the 102 falls reported, 63% resulted in an injury. Most occurred outdoors (52%), between late morning and late afternoon (61%) and when navigating on level ground (62%). The most common non–fall–related injuries were lacerations (36%) and collisions with an object (35%). Reduced contrast sensitivity and visual acuity were associated with increased fall rate, after controlling for age, sex, cognitive function, cataract severity, and self-reported physical function. Reduced contrast sensitivity was the only significant predictor of non–fall–related injuries.

Conclusions.: Among older adults with AMD, increased visual impairment was significantly associated with an increased incidence of falls and other injuries. Reduced contrast sensitivity was significantly associated with both increased rates of falls and other injuries, while reduced visual acuity was only associated with increased fall rate. These findings have important implications for the assessment of visually impaired older adults.


School of Exercise Science

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Open Access Journal Article

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

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