New research will investigate sight loss and physical activity

Posted on 12th April 2012

A team of academics led by the European Centre for Environment & Human Health has received funding for a new 12 month project that will examine the effects of sight loss on physical activity in older adults.

The research award has been given by the Thomas Pocklington Trust, a registered charity that provides housing and support for people with sight loss in the UK.

Working in collaboration with Loughborough University, the project is aiming to improve our understanding of physical activity in older people with sight loss, and use this information to help guide policies that can promote health and wellbeing in those affected by the condition.

Participants will be recruited from Cornwall, the east Midlands and London to provide the study with a nationally relevant context, and give a voice to a group who have so far been largely overlooked in health policy.

Each year Pocklington funds research initiatives that can help identify ways to improve the lives of people with sight loss. By being physically active, older adults can lower their risk of developing diseases (including dementia), improve wellbeing and maintain a greater level of independence. This research is seeking to identify the factors that prevent and enable physical activity in those aged between 60 and 75 years old, as a result of sight loss, and develop measures to overcome them.

The project will lead to the creation of one full time, 12 month appointment at the European Centre, which is based at the Knowledge Spa on the Royal Cornwall Hospital site in Truro.

Dr Cassandra Phoenix, primary investigator and project lead said:

“We are delighted to have been given this research award, which will deliver research of national relevance. As our population increases in age it is vital that we develop a thorough understanding of how we can use physical activity to improve our health, and ensure we maintain wellbeing through the ageing process. Along with our colleagues at Loughborough University, the European Centre is ideally placed to conduct this work, which will benefit the residents of Cornwall and beyond”.

Sarah Buchanan, Research Director at Pocklington Trust added:

“Two million people in the UK have sight loss which affects their everyday lives – most are aged over 65 and everyone in that age group is likely to have reduced vision. Pocklington is committed to research which has practical effects on improving the lives of people with sight loss. By funding this project we aim to increase knowledge and understanding of participation in physical activity among older people with sight loss and influence policy and practice in a way that will support positive experiences and engagement in this important part of people’s lives.”

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