The Waterloo Vision and Mobility Study: postural control strategies in subjects with ARM


and reprint requests to: Dr D B. Elliot, Department of Optometry, University of Bradford, Bradford BD7 1DP, UK.


Binocular visual function and standing balance control was assessed in 16 subjects with age-related maculopathy (ARM) (mean age 73.9 ± 7.4 years) and 19 controls (mean age 69.1 ± 5.5 years). Balance control was assessed using the center of pressure signal from force plate data. It was quantified using the root mean square (RMS) error of the amplitude, sampled over a 1 min period. This was evaluated during normal standing, and while the input from the kinesthetic and/or visual systems were disrupted. The two subject groups showed significantly different RMS values across conditions (P < 0.005). The differences in RMS between ARM and control groups were only significant when the input to the kinesthetic sensory system was disrupted. Our results suggest that in the normal standing condition, the kinesthetic and vestibular systems compensated for the lack of useful information from the visual system in ARM subjects. When kinesthetic system input was disrupted, balance control of the ARM group was significantly poorer than the control. There was a weak correlation between postural control and contrast sensitivity. Various strategies for preventing falls in elderly patients with low vision are suggested.