Seniors prone to falls are less able to adjust to poorer vision, study finds

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Seniors prone to falling might do so because they fail to adjust their walking speed to their vision impairments, new research finds.

To study the impact of visual impairments on walking abilities, Irish investigators divided 17 participants into three groups and made them complete a walking course, once while wearing goggles that blurred their vision and once without the goggles. The first group comprised five older adults who had fallen at least once in the last year; the second group had six seniors who had not fallen; and the third group had six younger adults.

All three groups struggled with the blurred-vision goggles, but the younger group, and the group of seniors without a history of falls both slowed their walking speed to adjust to their vision impairment. The group of seniors with recent falls, however, did not reduce their walking speed compensate for their blurred vision.

The investigators, from Trinity College in Dublin, concluded that “the ability to collect and process the visual information needed to navigate the surrounding environment is more severely impaired in fall-prone older adults than in older adults who have not fallen,” according to HealthDay News.

The study was published in the current issue of the journal Insight: Research and Practice in Visual Impairment and Blindness.