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Bianca Huurneman, F. Nienke Boonstra, Jeroen Goossens; Perceptual Learning in Children With Infantile Nystagmus: Effects on Visual Performance. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2016;57(10):4216-4228. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/iovs.16-19554.
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To evaluate whether computerized training with a crowded or uncrowded letter-discrimination task reduces visual impairment (VI) in 6- to 11-year-old children with infantile nystagmus (IN) who suffer from increased foveal crowding, reduced visual acuity, and reduced stereopsis.
Thirty-six children with IN were included. Eighteen had idiopathic IN and 18 had oculocutaneous albinism. These children were divided in two training groups matched on age and diagnosis: a crowded training group (n = 18) and an uncrowded training group (n = 18). Training occurred two times per week during 5 weeks (3500 trials per training). Eleven age-matched children with normal vision were included to assess baseline differences in task performance and test–retest learning. Main outcome measures were task-specific performance, distance and near visual acuity (DVA and NVA), intensity and extent of (foveal) crowding at 5 m and 40 cm, and stereopsis.
Training resulted in task-specific improvements. Both training groups also showed uncrowded and crowded DVA improvements (0.10 ± 0.02 and 0.11 ± 0.02 logMAR) and improved stereopsis (670 ± 249″). Crowded NVA improved only in the crowded training group (0.15 ± 0.02 logMAR), which was also the only group showing a reduction in near crowding intensity (0.08 ± 0.03 logMAR). Effects were not due to test–retest learning.
Perceptual learning with or without distractors reduces the extent of crowding and improves visual acuity in children with IN. Training with distractors improves near vision more than training with single optotypes. Perceptual learning also transfers to DVA and NVA under uncrowded and crowded conditions and even stereopsis. Learning curves indicated that improvements may be larger after longer training.
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