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Impaired vision and hip fracture
David Felson
Additional author(s): Jennifer Anderson, Marian Hannan, Roy Milton, Peter Wilson & Douglas Kiel
Publication: The American Geriatrics Society

KEY POINTS

  • This study looks at the risk of hip fracture associated with visual impairment.
  • Poor vision in one or both eyes was linked to an elevated fracture risk.
  • This risk was higher for those who had moderately impaired vision in one eye and good vision in the other. This suggests that good stereoscopic vision may be necessary to prevent falls.

SUMMARY

Falls affect a large proportion of the elderly and can result in a variety of injuries, including hip fractures.

Several studies have suggested that visual impairment contributes to falls, but studies have not used standardized definitions of visual impairment and have not examined injurious falls or fractures. This study looked at the risk of hip fracture associated with visual impairment in those members of the Framingham Study Cohort who took part in the Framingham Eye Study in 1973-75.

Of 2,633 subjects followed for 10 years after the eye exam, 110 sustained hip fractures. The fracture rates in those with moderately impaired (20/30 to 20/80) vision (8.5%) and poor (20/100 or worse) vision (11.3%) were higher than in those with good (20/25 or better) vision (3.0%). After adjustment for age, sex, weight, alcohol consumption, and (in women) estrogen use, the relative risk of fracture in those with moderate impairment was 1.54 (95% CI = 0.95-2.49), while for those with poor vision, the relative risk was 2.17 (95% CI = 1.24-3.80).

Of note, those with moderately impaired vision in one eye and good vision in the other had a higher risk of fracture (relative risk = 1.94) than those with a similar degree of binocular impairment (relative risk = 1.11). Poor vision in one or both eyes was linked to an elevated fracture risk. This suggests that good stereoscopic vision may be necessary to prevent falls. The risk of fracture with poor and moderately impaired vision combined was increased in women (relative risk = 1.96, 95% CI = 1.23-3.11) but not in men (relative risk = 0.79, 95% CI = 0.23-2.72).

Link: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2715555

Published in 1989.

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