Visual acuity and contrast sensitivity in relation to falls in an elderly population

Age Ageing. 1991 May;20(3):175-81. doi: 10.1093/ageing/20.3.175.


Visual acuity and contrast sensitivity were measured in 95 residents of a hostel for the aged (mean age = 83 years) using a dual-contrast letter chart and the Melbourne Edge Test (MET). Vision (as measured by visual acuity, the MET, low-contrast visual acuity, and difference between high- and low-contrast acuity) decreased significantly with age and all four measures were significantly correlated. Subjects with a clinical eye disorder had poorer vision than those without a disorder although the differences were not significant. Visual acuity and contrast sensitivity were not associated with body sway when subjects were standing on a firm base. However, when the subjects were placed in a situation which provided reduced support (standing on a compliant surface), body sway was associated with poor visual acuity and contrast sensitivity. There was also a difference in contrast sensitivity between those who fell one or more times in a year of follow-up and those who did not fall. It appears that reduced vision may be a predisposing factor to postural imbalance and falls in elderly persons.

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls*
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Contrast Sensitivity*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Postural Balance / physiology
  • Posture*
  • Risk Factors
  • Vision Disorders / complications
  • Visual Acuity / physiology*