Cautiousness of visually impaired people results in increased falls risk, study finds

A study has found that people with sight loss have increased anxiety when navigating obstacles

People walking

People with visual impairment are more cautious when stepping over obstacles but this increased their risk of falls, a new study has found.

Published in Scientific Reports and performed at Anglia Ruskin University, researchers simulated blurred vision in participants before asking them to negotiate at 10cm high obstacle under a specified time. Researchers recorded how participants negotiated the obstacle and where their gaze.

Researchers reported that participants with impaired vision raised their lead foot 43% higher and 10% slower than the control group. Furthermore, this affected participants’ stability.

The study observed that those with visual impairment also showed 32% more anxiety than the control group, regardless of time. They also looked down more often and for longer when completing the task.

Study author and director of the Vision and Eye Research Institute at the Anglia Ruskin University, Professor Shahina Pardhan, explained: “Walking with vision loss requires significantly more mental effort, and this research shows that even when performing a simple task like stepping over an obstacle, people with sight problems have considerable anxiety about falling, particularly when they might be in a hurry.”

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