Fear of Falling Tied to Glaucoma Severity

Visual field (VF) loss resulting from glaucoma is associated with an increased fear of falling, even in people not classified as blind, according to a study published in Ophthalmology. More science needs to be applied to how we train people to walk and to navigate the world. Patients might then be less likely to fall and less likely to bump into things and then eventually be less likely to be fearful, but presently there are no good methods fot that type of training.

The study noted that 50% of people with glaucoma fall over the course of a year, and injuries are more common in this group than in other elderly people. They studied 83 glaucoma subjects with bilateral VF loss, mean age was about 70 years old. All subjects completed the University of Illinois at Chicago Fear of Falling Questionnaire, which includes questions about walking on icy ground, negotiating dark stairs, stepping off a curb, and other circumstances.

Glaucoma was associated with significantly greater fear of falling. This increased with greater VF loss severity. Other variables predicting increased fear included being female, decreased strength and greater comorbid illness.

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