OBJECTIVES: To examine the relationship between binocular visual field loss and the risk of incident frequent falls in older white women.
DESIGN: A multicenter, prospective cohort study.
SETTING: Four clinic centers within the United States in Baltimore, Maryland; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Portland, Oregon; and the Monongahela Valley, Pennsylvania.
PARTICIPANTS: Four thousand seventy-one community-dwelling white women aged 70 and older participating in the Study of Osteoporotic Fractures.
MEASUREMENTS: Primary outcome was incident frequent falls, defined as two or more falls within 1 year. Primary risk factors were binocular visual field loss, distance visual acuity in the better eye, and contrast sensitivity at low spatial frequency in the better eye.
RESULTS: Of 4,071 women, 409 (10%) had severe binocular visual field loss at the eye examination, and 643 (16%) experienced frequent falls within 1 year after their eye examination. Severe binocular visual field loss was significantly associated with frequent falls when adjusting for age, study site, and cognitive function (odds ratio=1.50, 95% confidence interval=1.11–2.02). The data showed a trend for increasing odds of two or more falls with greater binocular visual field loss (P<.001). In older white women with severe binocular visual field loss, 33.3% of frequent falls were attributable to visual field loss.
CONCLUSION: Women with binocular visual field loss are at greater risk of future frequent falls. Screening for binocular visual field loss may identify individuals at high risk of falling.