Joshua R. Ehrlich MD, MPH, Shirin E. Hassan BAppSc(Optom), PhD, Brian C. Stagg MD, MS

Prevalence of Falls and Fall-Related Outcomes in Older Adults with Self-Reported Vision Impairment

publication date
13 November 2018
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To determine the prevalence of falls, fear of falling (FoF), and activity limitation due to FoF in a nationally representative study of older adults with self-reported vision impairment (VI).


Cross-sectional analysis of panel survey data.


National Health and Aging Trends Study, a nationally representative survey administered annually from 2011 to 2016 to U.S. Medicare beneficiaries aged 65 and older.


Respondents (N=11,558) who contributed 36,229 participant observations.


We performed logistic regression to calculate the unadjusted and adjusted prevalence of self-reported history of more than 1 fall in the past year, any fall in the past month, FoF, and activity limitation due to FoF in participants with and without self-reported VI.



The weighted proportion of participants reporting VI was 8.6% (95% confidence interval (CI)=8.0–9.2%). The unadjusted prevalence of more than 1 fall in the past year was 27.6% (95% CI=25.5–29.7%) in participants with self-reported VI and 13.2% (95% CI=12.7–13.7%) in those without self-reported VI. In respondents with self-reported VI, the prevalence of FoF was 48.3% (95% CI=46.1–50.6%) and of FoF limiting activity was 50.8% (95%CI 47.3–54.2%), and in those without self-reported VI, the prevalence of FoF was 26.7% (95% CI=25.9–27.5%) and of FoF limiting activity was 33.9% (95% CI=32.4–35.4%). The prevalence of all fall and fall-related outcomes remained significantly higher among those with self-reported VI after adjusting for sociodemographics and potential confounders.


The prevalence of falls, FoF, and activity limitation due to FoF is high in older adults with self-reported VI. This is the first study to provide nationally representative data on the prevalence of fall-related outcomes in older Americans with self-reported VI. These findings demonstrate the need to treat avoidable VI and to develop interventions to prevent falls and fall-related outcomes in this population.

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