What research tells us about the impact of glaucoma on the patient

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Abstract

Understanding the impact of glaucoma on the person is critical for treatment and public policy decisions. The functional domains impacted by glaucoma include mobility, driving, reading, and search-related tasks. A major impact of glaucoma is falls, and a one in three glaucoma patients experiences an injury resulting from a fall in a given year, likely as a result of balance impairment. The result is significantly more fear of falling than normally-sighted individuals, leading to significant restriction of physical activity, walking, and travel outside the home. Individuals with glaucoma are also more likely to stop or restrict their driving resulting in decreased independence, while those who continue to drive have higher rates of motor vehicle accidents. Glaucoma is associated with slower reading speeds, particularly when reading out loud, reading over longer durations, or reading low contrast materials. Finally, glaucoma affects a broad array of other abilities important in daily life including searching for objects, reaching and grasping objects, and recognizing individuals or objects. These impairments decrease quality of life for the individual and confer additional health risks, i.e. from fall or accident-related injury.

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