Research into falls wins prize for vision team

Published: 11 December 2014 at 10:42

Study into vulnerability of glaucoma patients wins award at ophthalmological event

An Anglia Ruskin University project examining the likelihood of elderly patients with glaucoma suffering falls has won an award.

The study ‘Obstacle crossing in patients with glaucoma’ by Anglia Ruskin’s Vision and Eye Research Unit (VERU) won Best Free Paper at the UK and Eire Glaucoma Society’s annual congress.

Dr Amy Scarfe, under the leadership of Professor Shahina Pardhan, presented the research on how glaucoma affects the way patients walk due to a loss in peripheral vision. Using a state-of-the-art analysis system, the researchers demonstrated how glaucoma patients use caution when walking to compensate for their reduced vision.

Research found glaucoma patients lifted their lead foot 16% higher than the control group, indicating increased caution. They also moved lead and trail feet slower. However, the glaucoma participants exhibited much more variability in their movement patterns (lead toe clearance 28% more variable; trail toe clearance 19% more variable). A more variable gait pattern has previously been linked to increased risk of falling.

Dr Scarfe said:

“I am very pleased to have received recognition for this study, which was undertaken using our facilities at Anglia Ruskin and involved several of our academics. This was an ophthalmology conference and as such it is unusual for a non-ophthalmologist such as myself to win an award here.”

Professor Shahina Pardhan, Director of VERU, added:

“I am delighted that our research has been recognised at such a prestigious conference. Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of visual impairment in the elderly. This research helps identify factors that may cause glaucoma patients or visually impaired people to fall, which will in turn influence important clinical applications.”