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Girish Kumar, Susana T. L. Chung; Characteristics of Fixational Eye Movements in People With Macular Disease. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2014;55(8):5125-5133. doi: 10.1167/iovs.14-14608.
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Fixation stability is known to be poor for people with macular disease and has been suggested as a contributing factor for the poor visual performance of these individuals. In this study, we examined the characteristics of the different components of fixational eye movements and determined the component that plays a major role in limiting fixation stability in people with macular disease.
Sixteen observers with macular disease and 14 older adults with normal vision (control observers) monocularly fixated a small cross presented using a Rodenstock scanning laser ophthalmoscope, for trials of 30 seconds. The retinal image and the position of the cross on the retina were recorded digitally. Eye movements were extracted from the recorded videos at a sampling rate of 540 Hz using a cross-correlation technique. A velocity criterion of 8°/s was used to differentiate between slow drifts and microsaccades.
Observers with macular disease demonstrated higher fixation instability, larger amplitudes of slow drifts and microsaccades, and lower drift velocities, when compared with older adults with normal vision. The velocity and the rate of microsaccades were comparable between the two groups of observers. Multiple linear regression analysis showed that the amplitude of microsaccades, and to a smaller extent, the amplitude of slow drifts, play a major role in limiting fixation stability.
Fixation stability in people with macular disease is primarily limited by the amplitude of microsaccades, implying that rehabilitative strategies targeted at reducing the amplitude of microsaccades should improve fixation stability, and may lead to improved visual functions.
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