Falls are the leading cause of accidental death in persons over 65 years of age, and the costs associated with falls run into billions dollars annually. Nearly half of all patients with visual field loss from glaucoma will fall over a calendar year. Moreover, roughly one in three patients will suffer a fall-related injury. The consequences of these falls often go beyond the immediate injury. Patients can become fearful of falling, leading them to restrict their physical activity and lead a more isolated life.
The goals of the study, sponsored by a grant from the National Eye Institute, are to determine which patients are at the highest risk of falls and which modifiable features are associated with falls. To determine if there are specific features of the home that might be associated with falls, each study volunteer undergoes a thorough evaluation of their home environment.
State of the art motion-detecting technology is used to study balance and how patients move through space in order to determine if certain gait patterns might increase the likelihood of falls. Detailed reports of patient falls are gathered and understood in the context of each patient’s activity patterns, in order to understand the specific circumstances around each fall.
This information will help guide future studies to prevent falls and to make the lives of our patients safer and more fulfilling.
- Define how the risk of vision loss varies across glaucoma severity.
- Identify potentially modifiable fall risk factors among patients with glaucoma.
- Determine the downstream mobility consequences amongst patients who do and don’t fall.