Background: Falls are a serious problem in the elderly, and have recently been described as cardiovascular-mediated side effects of beta-blocker eye drops. Therefore, we investigated the possible association between the long-term use of beta-blockers, prostaglandins and their combinations in eye drops, and falls, dizziness and orthostatic hypotension in older patients. Methods: All participants were long-term users of eye drops containing beta-blockers, prostaglandins or their combinations. They underwent a structured falls interview and blood pressure measurement for testing of orthostatic hypotension. The odds ratio for presence of orthostatic hypotension or a positive falls history according to use of beta-blocker eye drops was calculated with a binary logistic regression analysis. The main outcome measures were a positive falls history and the presence of orthostatic hypotension. Results: In total, 148 of 286 subjects participated. After adjustment for age, gender, and use of fall-risk-increasing drugs other than beta-blocker eye drops, we found no significant difference in fall risk [odds ratio (OR): 0.60; 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.268-1.327] between patients using ophthalmic beta-blockers or a combination of ophthalmic beta-blockers and prostaglandins, and patients using ophthalmic prostaglandins only. Although prevalence of orthostatic hypotension was higher in the beta-blocker group (OR: 1.67; 95% CI: 0.731-3.793) compared to the prostaglandin group, this was a non-significant difference. Conclusions: In our study, we did not find a significant association between long-term use of beta-blockers eye drops and falls, dizziness or orthostatic hypotension in older ophthalmic outpatients, compared to long-term use of prostaglandin eye drops.

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Graefe's Archive for Clinical and Experimental Ophthalmology
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Ramdas, W., van der Velde, N., van der Cammen, T., & Wolfs, R. (2009). Evaluation of risk of falls and orthostatic hypotension in older, long-term topical beta-blocker users. Graefe's Archive for Clinical and Experimental Ophthalmology, 247(9), 1235–1241. doi:10.1007/s00417-009-1092-8