The causes of falls: views of older people with visual impairment

WessexEye, Generic Health Relevance, Injuries and Accidents
Published Date: 4 Mar 2015



Sight impairment increases with age and, compared with the general older population, older people with sight impairment are more likely to fall. There is a growing body of evidence on the views and perceptions of older people about falls, but little is published on the views of older people with sight impairment.


To explore what older people with sight impairment believe to be the causes of falls.


A qualitative design was used, incorporating focus groups and interviews in which participants discussed falls and falls prevention. Framework analysis was employed to identify themes arising from participants' discussions of the causes of falls.

Setting and participants

Fifty-four community dwelling men and women with sight impairment, aged 65 and over, were recruited from across Greater Manchester, UK.


Five types of factors were identified that were believed to cause falls: (i) health issues and changes in balance caused by ageing; (ii) cognitive and behavioural factors; (iii) the impact of sight impairment on getting around the home; (iv) the impact of sight impairment on negotiating the environment away from home; and (v) unexplained falls.

Discussion and conclusions

Older people with sight impairment reported many researched risk factors previously identified by older people without sight impairment but also described many perceived risks unique to people with sight impairment. There are few interventions to prevent falls aimed at older people with sight impairment, and the results of this study allow further tailoring of such interventions based on views of older people with sight impairment.

Caroline Brundle