Reviewing fall risks with glaucoma patients and their family members or caretakers and encouraging preventive measures is a necessary form of prevention, and a study published in American Journal of Ophthalmology recently provided more evidence to support these concerns. The researchers determined that severity of glaucoma in patients is associated with higher fear of falling and avoidance of activities where patients could be at risk of falling. They believe that interventions addressing these issues may lower morbidity and mortality and improve the emotional and social well-being of glaucoma patients.1
The study, based at Washington University in St. Louis, assessed 138 glaucoma patients between the ages of 55 and 90. Sixty-one were at the mild stage, 54 were at the moderate stage and 23 were at the advanced stage. The patients, along with 50 age-matched controls, completed questionnaires regarding falls, fear of falling and avoidance of activities at-risk for falls.1
Of the glaucoma patients, 36% reported at least one fall in the last 12 months compared with 20% of controls (OR=2.7). The mild glaucoma group trended toward a higher fall risk (OR=2.43), and the advanced group had the highest fall risk (OR=7.97) compared with controls. The researchers also noted that a higher fear of falling and avoidance of at-risk activities occurred at the moderate stage of glaucoma (OR=4.66), but those at the advanced stage had the highest rate of falls, fear of falling and avoidance of at-risk activities.1
“Helping patients to understand falling factors with education, and developing interventional strategies to decrease falls in and outside the home using professionals like orientation and mobility specialists and occupational and physical therapists will hopefully decrease fall-related morbidity and mortality,” Paul B. Freeman, OD, wrote in his commentary on the study in Practice Update.2
1. Bhorade AM, Perlmutter MS, Sabapathypillai SL, et al. Rate of falls, fear of falling and avoidance of activities at-risk for falls in older adults with glaucoma. Am J Ophthalmol. February 21, 2021. [Epub ahead of print].
2. Freeman PB. Rate of falls, fear of falling and avoidance of activities at-risk for falls in older adults with glaucoma. Practice Update. www.practiceupdate.com/content/rate-of-falls-fear-of-falling-and-avoidance-of-activities-associated-with-risk-for-falls-in-older-adults-with-glaucoma/114333/62. Accessed March 12, 2021.