Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Researchers find diminished balance in those with poor vision

07.06.2013
UC Davis Health System Eye Center research has found that visually impaired individuals and those with uncorrected refractive error — those who could benefit from glasses to achieve normal vision but don't wear glasses — have a significantly greater risk of diminished balance with their eyes closed on a compliant, foam surface than individuals with normal vision.

The research, published in the June 6 issue of JAMA Ophthalmology, suggests that vision may play an important role in calibrating the vestibular system, which includes the bones and soft tissue of the inner ear, to help optimize physical balance. The work provides direction for more targeted studies on how poor vision impacts vestibular balance, and how to better develop fall prevention strategies for those with poor vision.

"We know that vision and balance are highly integrated in the brain, but we don't fully understand the relative contributions of the visual, proprioceptive, and vestibular systems in maintaining balance and preventing falls, especially among the visually impaired," said Jeffrey R. Willis, an ophthalmology resident at UC Davis Health System Eye Center and lead author of the study.

"Our research is the first large scale population study to compare objective measures of physical balance across individuals with normal vision, uncorrected refractive error, and the visually impaired, and the first to link poor vision with diminished vestibular balance," he said. "These results have important implications for improving balance and mobility in the U.S. population and preventing falls."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, falls among older adults alone cost the U.S. health care system over $30 billion in 2010. One in three adults age 65 and older falls each year, and of those who fall, 20 percent to 30 percent suffer moderate to severe injuries that make it hard for them to get around or live independently, and increase their risk of early death.

Study methods

To objectively examine the relationship between poor vision and balance, Willis worked with the Dana Center for Preventative Ophthalmology at Johns Hopkins University and senior author Pradeep Ramulu to conduct a cross-sectional study, evaluating data from 4,590 adults aged 40 or older, who participated in the 2001-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). The national survey, which aimed to assess balance in a nationally representative population, included tests of participants' ability to stand with feet together unassisted under increasing challenging conditions: standing on a firm surface with eyes open and then closed, and standing on a compliant, foam surface with eyes opened and then closed.

Foam-surface testing with eyes opened measured the effects of the visual and vestibular systems to work together to maintain postural balance, while the same test with eyes closed primarily assessed the impact of the vestibular system alone, as visual and proprioceptive inputs were minimized. Balance was graded as pass or fail, with the time-to- balance failure recorded for each of the tests. Participants failed the test when they began to fall, moved their arms or feet for stability, or needed help to maintain balance for 15 seconds while on the firm surface or for 30 seconds while on the foam surface. The researchers also gathered data on each participant's self-reported difficulty with falling during the last year.

The researchers found that participants with visual impairment and those with uncorrected refractive error had significantly higher rates of failing the eyes-closed foam-surface balance test —a proxy for vestibular balance – when compared to participants with normal vision. There was no significant difference in the rate of balance failure during balance tests with eyes opened or eyes closed on a firm surface. In addition, subjects with visual impairment, relative to those with normal vision, were more likely to self-report falling difficulties.

"Future research should focus on better understanding how poor vision may affect the vestibular-ocular reflex, and thus vestibular balance," said Willis. "Studies should also address how poor vision may lead to lower levels of physical and balance activities, as well as on how vision-related fall prevention strategies can be integrated with other fall prevention strategies to more effectively limit falls in our society."

Carole Gan | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ucdmc.ucdavis.edu

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht The personality factor: How to foster the sharing of research data
06.09.2017 | ZBW – Leibniz-Informationszentrum Wirtschaft

nachricht Europe’s Demographic Future. Where the Regions Are Heading after a Decade of Crises
10.08.2017 | Berlin-Institut für Bevölkerung und Entwicklung

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: LaserTAB: More efficient and precise contacts thanks to human-robot collaboration

At the productronica trade fair in Munich this November, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be presenting Laser-Based Tape-Automated Bonding, LaserTAB for short. The experts from Aachen will be demonstrating how new battery cells and power electronics can be micro-welded more efficiently and precisely than ever before thanks to new optics and robot support.

Fraunhofer ILT from Aachen relies on a clever combination of robotics and a laser scanner with new optics as well as process monitoring, which it has developed...

Im Focus: The pyrenoid is a carbon-fixing liquid droplet

Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.

A warming planet

Im Focus: Highly precise wiring in the Cerebral Cortex

Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.

The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...

Im Focus: Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers

New technique promises tunable laser devices

Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...

Im Focus: Ultrafast snapshots of relaxing electrons in solids

Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!

When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

I-ESA 2018 – Call for Papers

12.09.2017 | Event News

EMBO at Basel Life, a new conference on current and emerging life science research

06.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

An international team of physicists a coherent amplification effect in laser excited dielectrics

25.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

LaserTAB: More efficient and precise contacts thanks to human-robot collaboration

25.09.2017 | Trade Fair News

Highest-energy cosmic rays have extragalactic origin

25.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>