Objective: The purpose of the study is to report relationships between visual function parameters and falls, hip fractures, and gait time in adults.
Design: Population-based study.
Participants: The 3722 persons who participated in the 5-year follow-up of the Beaver Dam Eye Study cohort.
Main outcome measures: The visual functions measured at the examination were best-corrected visual acuity, current binocular acuity, near acuity, contrast sensitivity, and visual threshold to light. Information on falls and hip fractures was obtained by structured interview. Gait time was measured by standardized protocol.
Results: History of falls and hip fractures increased with age, as did time to walk a measured course. Falls were more commonly reported for all persons who had poorer visual function, although not all relationships were significant in persons less than 60 years of age. In persons 60 years of age and older, hip fractures after the age of 40 were significantly related to all measures of visual function. Time to walk a measured course was significantly related to all measures of visual function.
Conclusions: These data indicate a consistent relationship between falls, fractures, gait time, and visual functions. Longitudinal data are necessary to accurately determine temporal relationships and to determine the likelihood of a causal association. In the interim, these data suggest that improving visual function may have benefits such as decreased traumatic events and improved mobility.