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David B. Elliott, Graham J. Chapman; Adaptive Gait Changes Due to Spectacle Magnification and Dioptric Blur in Older People. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2010;51(2):718-722. doi: 10.1167/iovs.09-4250.
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A recent study suggested that updated spectacles could increase fall rate in frail older people. The authors hypothesized that the increased risk may be due to changes in spectacle magnification. The present study was conducted to assess the effects of spectacle magnification on step negotiation.
Adaptive gait and visual function were measured in 10 older adults (mean age, 77.1 ± 4.3 years) with the participants' optimal refractive correction and when blurred with +1.00, +2.00, −1.00, and −2.00 DS lenses. Adaptive gait measurements for the leading and trailing foot included foot position before the step, toe clearance of the step edge, and foot position on the step. Vision measurements included visual acuity, contrast sensitivity, and stereoacuity.
The blur lenses led to equal decrements in visual acuity and stereoacuity for the +1.00 and −1.00 DS and the +2.00 and −2.00 DS lenses. However, they had very different effects on step negotiation compared with the optimal correction. Positive-blur lenses led to an increased distance of the feet from the step, increased vertical toe clearance and reduced distance of the leading heel position on the step. Negative lenses led to the opposite of these changes.
The step negotiation changes did not mirror the effects of blur on vision, but were driven by the magnification changes of the lenses. Steps appear closer and larger with positive lenses and farther away and smaller with negative ones. Magnification is a likely explanation of the mobility problems some older adults have with updated spectacles and after cataract surgery.
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