Glaucoma :: Study probes eye disease and falls

Volunteers for a study on the degenerative eye disease, glaucoma, and its link with falls in older people are being sought by a Queensland University of Technology optometry researcher.

PhD researcher Alex Black, of the School of Optometry at QUT’s Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation (IHBI), is seeking to 100 people over the age of 65 who have glaucoma and are living independently in the community for testing to find out how glaucoma affects their mobility and risk of falling.

“Glaucoma causes irreversible loss of peripheral vision because nerves in the eye become damaged,” Mr Black said.

“Peripheral or side vision has an important role in balance and people who lose side vision could be more at risk of falling.”

Mr Black said he would test the volunteers’ eyes and ask them to perform some balance and walking tests.

“Volunteers will then be monitored for 12 months for falls,” he said.

“Our aim is find out how at risk people with glaucoma are of having a fall and the situations in which this is most likely to happen. This will enable us to suggest services and provide education to people with glaucoma who may be prone to falling and help in reducing the risks of future falls.”

Mr Black said glaucoma affected about 5 per cent of older Australians and while there was no known cause, some risk factors included age, high eye pressure and having a family history of the disease.

He said glaucoma was treated with eye drops or surgery which could prevent further vision loss, especially if caught in time.

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