May 2014

Good lighting alone does not reduce the risk of of falls in older people with sight loss, according to a study commissioned by Thomas Pocklington Trust. Researchers found that flexibility and muscle movement are more important factors in ensuring sight loss stair safety.

Key facts: Sight loss stair safety

  • Stair-related injuries in people aged 75 and older are five times greater than those in young people.
  • Participants of the study reduced their speed of movement in dimmer conditions, but this was not considered a measure of safety and is more likely to be indicative of an increased fear of falling in poor lighting.
  • Appropriate lighting has been identified as an important factor for the safe use of stairs, an intervention to improve lighting alone is unlikely to reduce the risk of falling in older people with sight loss.
  • Muscle strength and balance are likely to be important in reducing the risk of falls.

How can this research help?

Older people with sight loss cannot rely on lighting alone to ensure safety around stairs. The research suggests a combined approach to reducing the risks of falls by focusing on improving the fitness of older people through rehabilitation.

Links: 

Research Findings: Lighting and Falls on Stairs in the Homes of Older People with Sight Loss – PDF version and Word version