People with glaucoma collide with objects and fall more frequently than normally sighted individuals. Glaucoma-related visual field loss disrupts appropriate gaze behaviour, which is necessary for foot placement and route selection through cluttered environments. Thus, we developed a gaze training intervention to modify gaze behaviour. We taught (2, 1-hr sessions) older adults with glaucoma (n = 10) appropriate scanning and task-specific gaze strategies. To assess its effectiveness, participants performed a precision walking and obstacle avoidance task before and one-week after training. After training, participants shifted their gaze away from targets later relative to stepping on them and decreased foot-placement error and error variability. In the obstacle avoidance task, participants made more fixations before walking, shifted their gaze away from obstacles earlier with respect to crossing them, and had fewer obstacle collisions. Our results suggest that gaze is modifiable in older adults with glaucoma, and that gaze training may improve mobility.
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Thesis advisor: Marigold, Daniel S.
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