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Poor vision in older adults: A link to social isolation

December 26, 2012
by Sandra Hoban, Executive Editor
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Older adults with vision problems are more likely to become socially isolated due to a fear of falling, according to a new study.

The Canadian study, published in the December issue of Investigative Opthalmology & Visual Science, looked at 350 older adults: approximately 245 with vision deficits and about 100 with normal vision. Only 16 percent of those with normal vision limited their social activities as compared with 40–50 percent of those with vision problems, such as glaucoma. Disengagement because of fear of falling can lead to isolation and disability, according to the study.

The study also shows that women were most likely to limit their activities due to the fear of falling. In addition, they were more likely to be depressed and experienced more health problems.

Study author Ellen Freeman of the University of Montreal ophthalmology department said, in an article: "It is important to know more about which activities are being limited due to fear of falling. We can then develop and test interventions to help people feel more confident about their ability to safely do those activities."

The study authors recommend that to prevent health problems associated with inactivity, people with eye problems should try to stay active and mobile safely.

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