Falls are the leading cause of injury-induced death and fear of falling can be equally devastating. Half of glaucoma patients fall once every year, as a result of which they may develop fear of falling along with social isolation, depression, and low self-esteem. Although patterns of functional damage in glaucoma are well established, research on the effect of glaucoma on non-visual sensory systems, motor function, and daily activities is limited to controlled lab settings and qualitative questionnaires with no individualized fall prevention strategies to date.
GoalsThe goal of the proposed study is to evaluate glaucoma’s contribution to falls and fear of falling. Multidisciplinary collaboration with researchers at UCLA Wireless Health Institute will enable us to employ Smart Insoles, as a wireless in-shoe platform, for continuous gait and plantar pressure monitoring in natural settings in an unobtrusive manner. The primary outcome will be foot clearance, a critical gait event defined as foot elevation during swing phase, measured by accelerometers and optical proximity sensors during steady-state walking trials. Twenty glaucoma patients and twenty sex- and age-matched control subjects will be asked to perform short walking trials in a defined environment at various speeds. Severity of visual function loss will be used to determine the extent of glaucomatous damage.
The kinematics knowledge on the relationship between glaucoma severity and gait disturbances could potentially assist clinicians to predict which patients are at higher risk of falling. Accordingly, multidimensional therapeutic strategies can be developed to alleviate fear of falling and improve quality of life for glaucoma patients.