Author(s): Turano KA, Rubin GS
PURPOSE: To determine whether glaucoma affects mobility performance and whether there is a relationship between mobility performance and stage of disease as estimated from vision-function measures. METHODS: The mobility performance of 47 glaucoma subjects was compared with that of 47 normal-vision subjects who were of similar age. Mobility performance was assessed by the time required to complete an established travel path and the number of mobility incidents. The subjective assessment of falling and fear of falling were also compared. Vision function was assessed by measures of visual acuity, contrast sensitivity, monocular automated threshold perimetry, and suprathreshold; binocular visual fields were assessed with the Esterman test. RESULTS: The glaucoma subjects walked on average 10% more slowly than did the normal-vision subjects. The number of people who experienced bumps, stumbles, or orientation problems was almost twice as high in the glaucoma group than the normal-vision group, but the difference did not reach statistical significance. The difference between groups also was not significant with respect to the number of people who reported falling in the past year (38% for the glaucoma group and 30% for the normal-vision group) or a fear of falling (28% for the glaucoma group and 23% for the normal-vision group). The visual fields assessed with a Humphrey 24-2 test were more highly correlated with walking speed in glaucoma than the visual fields scored by the Esterman scale or than visual acuity or contrast sensitivity. CONCLUSIONS: Glaucoma is associated with a modest decrease in mobility performance. Walking speed decreases with severity of the disease as estimated by threshold perimetry.