Cognitive-Behavioral TherapyElderly

Wearing glasses decreases the risk of falls in active seniors

After providing single lens glasses to wearers of multifocal glasses, researchers at the University of Sydney, in Australia found that active seniors were less likely to fall.

First, the details.

  • 606 elderly who were regular wearers of multifocal glasses were assigned to a treatment group.
    • Provision of single lens distance glasses with recommendations to wear them for walking and outdoor activities
    • Usual care
  • All participants had an increased risk of falls (fall in previous year or timed up and go test greater than 15 seconds) and outdoor use of multifocal glasses at least3 times a week.

And, the results.

  • 54%of those receiving single lens distance glasses reported satisfactory use for walking and outdoor activities for at least 7 out of 12months after receiving them.
  • Using single lens distance glasses resulted in a significant 8% reduction in falls.
    • Single lens distance glasses were associated with a significant reduction in…
      • All falls
      • Outside falls
      • Injurious falls in people who regularly took part in outside activities
  • However, a significant increase in outside falls occurred in people in the single lens distance glasses group who participated in little outside activity.

The bottom line?

The authors concluded, “Single lens glasses for older wearers of multifocal glasses who take part in regular outdoor activities is an effective falls prevention strategy.”

However, “the intervention may be harmful… in multi focal glasses wearers with low levels of outdoor activity.”

Several years ago in New Zealand, researchers studied older people with visual impairment to determine the value of removing home hazards (as well as the installing hand rails and shower stools). Half of the participants also received behavioral modification training. In the end, both groups benefited from removing the hazards, while behavioral modification had no impact.

The authors of this study concluded, “The overall reduction in falls by the home safety program must result from some mechanism in addition to the removal or modification of hazards or provision of new equipment.”

The study mentions nothing about whether the researchers confirmed that the patients wore their glasses.

How many older people do you know need glasses but never use them?

6/6/10 17:34 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.