• falls prevention;
  • frailty;
  • glaucoma;
  • physical activity;
  • visual field loss;
  • visual impairment

Citation information: Black AA, Wood JM & Lovie-Kitchin JE. Inferior visual field reductions are associated with poorer functional status among older adults with glaucoma. Ophthalmic Physiol Opt 2011, 31, 283–291. doi: 10.1111/j.1475-1313.2010.00811.x


Purpose:  To examine the relationship between visual impairment and functional status in a community-dwelling sample of older adults with glaucoma.

Methods:  This study included 74 community-dwelling older adults with open-angle glaucoma (aged 74 ± 6 years). Assessment of central vision included high-contrast visual acuity and Pelli-Robson contrast sensitivity. Binocular integrated visual fields were derived from merged monocular Humphrey Field Analyser visual field plots. Functional status outcome measures included physical performance tests (6-min walk test, timed up and go test and lower limb strength), a physical activity questionnaire (Physical Activity Scale for the Elderly) and an overall functional status score. Correlation and linear regression analyses, adjusting for age and gender, examined the association between visual impairment and functional status outcomes.

Results:  Greater levels of visual impairment were significantly associated with lower levels of functional status among community-dwelling older adults with glaucoma, independent of age and gender. Specifically, lower levels of visual function were associated with slower timed up and go performance, weaker lower limb strength, lower self-reported physical activity, and lower overall functional status scores. Of the components of vision examined, the inferior visual field and contrast factors were the strongest predictors of these functional outcomes, whereas the superior visual field factor was not related to functional status.

Conclusions:  Greater visual impairment, particularly in the inferior visual field and loss of contrast sensitivity, was associated with poorer functional status among older adults with glaucoma. The findings of this study highlight the potential links between visual impairment and the onset of functional decline. Interventions which promote physical activity among older adults with glaucoma may assist in preventing functional decline, frailty and falls, and improve overall health and well-being.