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Norman Sabbah, Colas N. Authié, Nicolae Sanda, Saddek Mohand-Said, José-Alain Sahel, Avinoam B. Safran; Importance of Eye Position on Spatial Localization in Blind Subjects Wearing an Argus II Retinal Prosthesis. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2014;55(12):8259-8266. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/iovs.14-15392.
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With a retinal prosthesis connected to a head-mounted camera (camera-connected prosthesis [CC-P]), subjects explore the visual environment through head-scanning movements. As eye and camera misalignment might alter the spatial localization of images generated by the device, we investigated if such misalignment occurs in blind subjects wearing a CC-P and whether it impacts spatial localization, even years after the implantation.
We studied three subjects blinded by retinitis pigmentosa, fitted with a CC-P (Argus II) 4 years earlier. Eye/head movements were video recorded as subjects tried to localize a visual target. Pointing coordinates were collected as subjects were requested to orient their gaze toward predetermined directions, and to point their finger to the corresponding perceived spot locations on a touch screen. Finally, subjects were asked to give a history of their everyday behavior while performing visually controlled grasping tasks.
Misaligned head and gaze directions occurred in all subjects during free visual search. Pointing coordinates were collected in two subjects and showed that median pointing directions shifted toward gaze direction. Reportedly all subjects were unable to accurately determine their eye position, and they developed adapted strategies to perform visually directed movements.
Eye position affected perceptual localization of images generated by the Argus II prosthesis, and consequently visuomotor coordination, even 4 years following implantation. Affected individuals developed strategies for visually guided movements to attenuate the impact of eye and head misalignment. Our observations provide indications for rehabilitation procedures and for the design of upcoming retinal prostheses. (ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT00407602.)
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