Objectives: To determine whether older women with exudative age-related macular degeneration (AMD) are at greater risk of falls.
Design: Cross-sectional study.
Setting: A hospital-based ophthalmology clinic in Vancouver, Canada.
Participants: One hundred fifteen older (aged > or = 70) community-dwelling women with exudative AMD (AMD cohort) and two control groups: 54 community-dwelling women without exudative AMD drawn from the same community (non-AMD cohort) and 341 community-dwelling Australian women (Australian normative cohort).
Measurements: Participants were assessed for falls risk using the short-form Physiological Profile Assessment (PPA), which provides a fall risk index score and subcomponent measures of vision, proprioception, strength, reaction time, and postural sway.
Results: The mean fall risk index score in the AMD cohort (3.20) was significantly greater than that of the non-AMD cohort (1.21; P<.001), and fall risk scores increased with age to a greater extent in the AMD cohort. The higher fall risk scores in the AMD cohort resulted from significantly worse performance on each PPA test, not just the test of vision. The AMD cohort also performed worse than the Australian normative cohort in tests of vision, reaction time, and postural sway.
Conclusion: Older women with AMD have impaired balance, slow visual reaction times, and poor vision, which in combination result in a significantly greater risk of falls than population norms. These deficits are clearly indicated in the physiological falls profile for the group. Strategies to enhance balance may be particularly beneficial to prevent falls in this group.