Risk of Falls and Fractures in Individuals With Cataract, Age-Related Macular Degeneration, or Glaucoma

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IMPORTANCE: Three leading disease causes of age-related visual loss are cataract, age-related macular degeneration (AMD), and glaucoma. Although all 3 eye diseases have been implicated with falls and fracture risk, evidence is mixed, with the contribution of different eye diseases being uncertain.

OBJECTIVE: To examine whether people with cataract, AMD, or glaucoma have higher risks of falls or fractures than those without.

DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS: This cohort study was a population-based study in England using routinely collected electronic health records from the Clinical Practice Research Datalink (CPRD) GOLD and Aurum primary care databases with linked hospitalization and mortality records from 2007 to 2020. Participants were people with cataract, AMD, or glaucoma matched to comparators (1:5) by age, sex, and general practice. Data were analyzed from May 2021 to June 2023.

EXPOSURES: For each eye disease, we estimated the risk of falls or fractures using separate multivariable Cox proportional hazards regression models.

MAIN OUTCOMES: Two primary outcomes were incident falls and incident fractures derived from general practice, hospital, and mortality records. Secondary outcomes were incident fractures of specific body sites.

RESULTS: A total of 410 476 people with cataract, 75 622 with AMD, and 90 177 with glaucoma were matched (1:5) to 2 034 194 (no cataract), 375 548 (no AMD), and 448 179 (no glaucoma) comparators. The mean (SD) age was 73.8 (11.0) years, 79.4 (9.4) years, and 69.8 (13.1) years for participants with cataract, AMD, or glaucoma, respectively. Compared with comparators, there was an increased risk of falls in those with cataract (adjusted hazard ratio [HR], 1.36; 95% CI, 1.35-1.38), AMD (HR, 1.25; 95% CI, 1.23-1.27), and glaucoma (HR, 1.38; 95% CI, 1.35-1.41). Likewise for fractures, there were increased risks in all eye diseases, with an HR of 1.28 (95% CI, 1.27-1.30) in the cataract cohort, an HR of 1.18 (95% CI, 1.15-1.21) for AMD, and an HR of 1.31 (95% CI, 1.27-1.35) for glaucoma. Site-specific fracture analyses revealed increases in almost all body sites (including hip, spine, forearm, skull or facial bones, pelvis, ribs or sternum, and lower leg fractures) compared with matched comparators.

CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE: The results of this study support recognition that people with 1 or more of these eye diseases are at increased risk of both falls and fractures. They may benefit from improved advice, access, and referrals to falls prevention services.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)96-106
Number of pages11
JournalJAMA Ophthalmology
Issue number2
Early online date28 Dec 2023
Publication statusPublished - 15 Feb 2024


  • Aged
  • Cataract/epidemiology
  • Cohort Studies
  • Glaucoma/epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Macular Degeneration/diagnosis


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