QUT Optometrist and PhD candidate Ursula White wants people over 65 with and without macular degeneration to participate in a study examining the association between falls, fear of falling, and activity levels.
"Age-related macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness and vision loss in older adults with one in seven Australians over 50 showing signs of macular degeneration, and research has shown adults with central vision loss due to macular degeneration are less active than their normally-sighted peers" said Ms White.
"We also know older people with central vision loss are around twice as likely to have a fall and are more likely to incur an injury as a result.
"So it is likely this group of older adults will have some concerns about the possibility of falling, which may explain their decisions to restrict some of their normal day-to-day activities.
However, this might mean they avoid activities they enjoy, and which enable them to maintain social contact, so we want to make sure that this consequence is minimised to maintain people's quality of life.
"Losing vision in later life has a huge impact on an individual's quality of life and the goal of vision rehabilitation is to minimise this impact. Improving our understanding of the relationship between vision loss and concerns about falling would be a very positive step towards achieving this goal."
Ms White is looking to recruit adults over 65 with macular degeneration in both eyes, as well as adults over 65 with no vision loss.
They will receive a $10 voucher to a leading grocery retailer for their first visit.
"Volunteers will be asked to attend the QUT Optometry Clinic at Kelvin Grove for an initial assessment, followed by a 12 month follow-up visit, as well as to complete a series of short monthly falls diaries in between these visits," she said.
"During each study visit we will perform a selection of standard vision tests as well as conducting some simple physical tests and completing some questionnaires regarding concerns about falling."
If concerns about falling are found to be a significant cause of activity restriction, then the findings of this research will help inform vision rehabilitation services, so that they can include support and assistance to manage people's concerns about falling in addition to managing their risk of falling.
To volunteer or find out more, call 3138 5713, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. QUT is part of a national collaborative group of five major Australian universities that form the ATN (Australian Technology Network of Universities).