The Link between Blur, Refractive Correction and Falls

Seminar | February 12 | 12-1 p.m. | 489 Minor Hall

 David Elliot, PhD, Professor, Bradford University, UK

 Neuroscience Institute, Helen Wills

Abstract: Falls are common and represent a very serious health risk for older people. They are not random events as falls are linked to a range of intrinsic and extrinsic risk factors. Vision provides a significant input to postural control in addition to providing information about the size and position of hazards and obstacles in the travel pathway and allows us to safely negotiate steps and stairs. Many studies have shown that reduced vision is a significant risk factor for falls. However, randomized controlled trials of optometric interventions and cataract surgery have not shown the expected reduction in falls rate, which may be due to magnification changes (and thus vestibulo-ocular reflex gain) in those participants who have large changes in refractive correction. Epidemiological studies have also shown that PAL and bifocal wearers are twice as likely to fall as non-multifocal wearers. In addition, laboratory based studies have shown safer adaptive gait with single vision glasses and a randomized controlled trial has shown that an additional pair of distance vision single vision glasses for outdoor use can reduce falls rate. The possible role of dizziness in this link will be briefly discussed and ophthalmic recommendations to help clinicians prevent their frail, older patients from falling will be suggested.