Poorer Visual Acuity is Independently Associated With Impaired Balance and Step Length But Not Overall Physical Performance in Older Adults

in Journal of Aging and Physical Activity
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This study examined the association between varying levels of visual acuity (VA) and physical performance (Short Physical Performance Battery) in older adults. A cross-sectional analysis of participants aged ≥50 years with a clinical diagnosis of vision loss across two studies was undertaken. Of 434 (96%) participants with available VA data, 74% (320/434) had nil, 7% (32/434) had mild, 8% (33/434) had moderate, and 11% (49/434) had severe visual impairment. Poorer VA of both better and worse eye was found to be significantly associated with poorer standing balance (p = .006 and p = .004, respectively); worse VA of the better eye was significantly associated with increased number of steps per meter (p = .005). Mean total Short Physical Performance Battery score of this study population was lower than published normative data for this age group. Physical activity programs for older people with reduced VA should be targeted at improving balance and gait skills to reduce falls risk.

Sorbello and Quang Do are with the University of Technology Sydney, Ultimo, NSW, Australia. Quang Do, Palagyi, and Keay are with The George Institute for Global Health, Faculty of Medicine, UNSW Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia. Sorbello is also with the Graduate School of Health, Discipline of Orthoptics, University of Technology Sydney, Ultimo, NSW, Australia. Keay is also with the School of Optometry and Vision Science, Faculty of Science, UNSW Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia.

Sorbello (shanelle.sorbello@uts.edu.au) is corresponding author.
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