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Re-evaluating vision and gait

March 6, 2017
by Pamela Tabar, Editor-in-Chief
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Poor vision is a well known contributor to falls risk, but Irish researchers say the reason why may not be what we thought. Functional acuity was thought to be the main culprit in gait changes, hesitant stride length and other walking issues. But contrast sensitivity may play a larger role that first believed, says a study published in the Journal of Gerontology A.

More than 4,600 adults age 50+ took part in the study as part of The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing.

The study measured gait speed, cadence, stride length and analyzed the participants’ visual acuity and contrast sensitivity. While researchers found no evidence of a relationship between gait and  visual acuity alone, they did find decreased stride length among those with poorer contrast sensitivity and lower spatial frequency.

“This evidence suggests that it may be necessary to consider refocus of the assessment of vision to include the most appropriate measures,” the study authors write.

The study results also reinforce the importance of contrasting colors and patterns in senior living environments for wayfinding and safety.

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