Coordination of Gaze Behavior and Foot Placement During Walking in Persons With Glaucoma

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Vision normally provides environmental information necessary to direct the foot to safe locations during walking. Peripheral visual field loss limits what a person can see, and may alter how a person visually samples the environment. Here we tested the hypothesis that the spatial-temporal coupling between gaze and stepping in a precision-based walking task is altered in persons with glaucoma, particularly under dual task situations, and results in reduced foot-placement accuracy.


Twenty persons with glaucoma and 20 normally sighted controls performed a precision walking task that involved stepping to the center of 4 targets under 3 conditions: targets only, walking, and counting backwards to simulate a conversation, and walking while performing a concurrent visual search task to simulate locating a landmark. We quantified foot-placement error and error variability with respect to the targets, as well as saccade and fixation timing with respect to foot placement.


Compared with controls, persons with glaucoma looked earlier at future stepping targets (with respect to toe-off of the foot) in the targets only and count conditions, and transferred gaze away sooner from the current stepping target in all conditions (P<0.05). Persons with glaucoma also had increased foot-placement error, particularly in the count condition, and increased foot-placement error variability compared with normally sighted controls (P<0.05).


Glaucoma significantly disrupts gaze-foot coordination and results in less accurate foot placement when precision is required during walking. This may increase the risk of trips and falls in this population.

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