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John G. Buckley, Gurvinder K. Panesar, Michael J. MacLellan, Ian E. Pacey, Brendan T. Barrett; Changes to Control of Adaptive Gait in Individuals with Long-standing Reduced Stereoacuity. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2010;51(5):2487-2495. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/iovs.09-3858.
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Gait during obstacle negotiation is adapted in visually normal subjects whose vision is temporarily and unilaterally blurred or occluded. This study was conducted to examine whether gait parameters in individuals with long-standing deficient stereopsis are similarly adapted.
Twelve visually normal subjects and 16 individuals with deficient stereopsis due to amblyopia and/or its associated conditions negotiated floor-based obstacles of different heights (7–22 cm). Trials were conducted during binocular viewing and monocular occlusion. Analyses focused on foot placement before the obstacle and toe clearance over it.
Across all viewing conditions, there were significant group-by-obstacle height interactions for toe clearance (P < 0.001), walking velocity (P = 0.003), and penultimate step length (P = 0.022). Toe clearance decreased (∼0.7cm) with increasing obstacle height in visually normal subjects, but it increased (∼1.5 cm) with increasing obstacle height in the stereo-deficient group. Walking velocity and penultimate step length decreased with increasing obstacle height in both groups, but the reduction was more pronounced in stereo-deficient individuals. Post hoc analyses indicated group differences in toe clearance and penultimate step length when negotiating the highest obstacle (P < 0.05).
Occlusion of either eye caused significant and similar gait changes in both groups, suggesting that in stereo-deficient individuals, as in visually normal subjects, both eyes contribute usefully to the execution of adaptive gait. Under monocular and binocular viewing, obstacle-crossing performance in stereo-deficient individuals was more cautious when compared with that of visually normal subjects, but this difference became evident only when the subjects were negotiating higher obstacles; suggesting that such individuals may be at greater risk of tripping or falling during everyday locomotion.
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