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Associations between visual impairment, incident falls and fall frequency among older asians: longitudinal findings from the Singapore Epidemiology of Eye Diseases study


Background Association between baseline visual impairment (VI) bilaterality and severity, and associated causes; and incident and frequent falls at 6 years in a multiethnic Asian population aged ≥60 years.

Methods It is a population-based prospective cohort study. Visual acuity was clinically measured at both visits. Self-reported incidence and frequency of falls were defined as having no fall at baseline but having one fall and ≥2 incident falls in the 12 months prior to the follow-up visit, respectively.

Results Of the 1972 older participants (mean age (SD): 67.37 (5.4) years), 253 (12.8%) and 69 (3.5%) reported at least one fall and ≥2 falls, respectively, at a 6-year follow-up. After multivariable adjustments, baseline bilateral VI, but not unilateral, was associated with higher odds of any incident falls (mild bilateral VI: OR=1.79, 95% CI 1.07 to 2.98; moderate-severe VI in one eye and mild VI in the other eye: OR=1.58, 95% CI 1.01 to 2.47). However, having any form of bilateral VI (OR ranging between 2.46 and 4.32; all p<0.05) and even unilateral mild VI (OR=2.34, 95% CI 1.09 to 5.03) significantly increased the odds of incident frequent falls, compared with bilateral normal vision. VI caused by correctable (OR=2.02, 95% CI 1.19 to 3.44) and uncorrectable (OR=3.09, 95% CI 1.08 to 8.80) eye conditions were both associated with greater odds of incident frequent falls, compared with no VI.

Conclusions Baseline bilateral but not unilateral VI conferred nearly two-fold higher odds of incident fall. Importantly, even mild unilateral VI conferred a substantially greater likelihood of frequent falls from correctable and uncorrectable conditions.

  • vision
  • epidemiology
  • public health

Data availability statement

All data relevant to the study are included in the article or uploaded as supplementary information.

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