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Ursula E. White, Alex A. Black, Kim Delbaere, Joanne M. Wood; Longitudinal Impact of Vision Impairment on Concern About Falling in People With Age-Related Macular Degeneration. Trans. Vis. Sci. Tech. 2022;11(1):34. https://doi.org/10.1167/tvst.11.1.34.
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To explore the longitudinal impact of central vision loss on concern about falling (CF), over a 12-month period, in people with age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
Participants included 60 community-dwelling older people (age, 79.7 ± 6.4 years) with central vision impairment due to AMD. Binocular high-contrast visual acuity, contrast sensitivity, and visual fields were assessed at baseline and at 12 months. CF was assessed at both time points using the Falls Efficacy Scale–International (FES-I). Sensorimotor function (sit to stand, knee extension, postural sway, and walking speed) and neuropsychological function (reaction time, symptoms of anxiety and depression) were also assessed at both time points using validated instruments. Falls data were collected using monthly diaries during the 12 months.
CF increased by a small but significant amount over the 12-month follow-up (2.1 units; P = 0.01), with increasing prevalence of high levels of CF (FES-I score ≥ 23), from 48% at baseline to 65% at 12 months. Linear mixed models showed that reduced contrast sensitivity was significantly associated with increased concern about falling (P = 0.004), whereas declines in both visual acuity and contrast sensitivity during the follow-up period were associated with increases in CF over the 12-month follow-up (P = 0.041 and P = 0.054, respectively), independent of age, gender, falls history, or number of comorbidities.
Higher levels of CF are common in older people with AMD, and levels increase over time; this increase is associated with declines in both visual acuity and contrast sensitivity. These findings highlight the need for regular assessment of both visual acuity and contrast sensitivity to identify those at greatest risk of developing higher CF.
Routine assessment of visual acuity and contrast sensitivity in older people with AMD will assist in identifying those at risk of developing high CF.
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