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Mervyn G. Thomas, Irene Gottlob, Rebecca J. McLean, Gail Maconachie, Anil Kumar, Frank A. Proudlock; Reading Strategies in Infantile Nystagmus Syndrome. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2011;52(11):8156-8165. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/iovs.10-6645.
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The adaptive strategies adopted by individuals with infantile nystagmus syndrome (INS) during reading are not clearly understood. Eye movement recordings were used to identify ocular motor strategies used by patients with INS during reading.
Eye movements were recorded at 500 Hz in 25 volunteers with INS and 7 controls when reading paragraphs of text centered at horizontal gaze angles of −20°, −10°, 0°, 10°, and 20°. At each location, reading speeds were measured, along with logMAR visual acuity and nystagmus during gaze-holding. Adaptive strategies were identified from slow and quick-phase patterns in the nystagmus waveform.
Median reading speeds were 204.3 words per minute in individuals with INS and 273.6 words per minute in controls. Adaptive strategies included (1) suppression of corrective quick phases allowing involuntary slow phases to achieve the desired goal, (2) voluntarily changing the character of the involuntary slow phases using quick phases, and (3) correction of involuntary slow phases using quick phases. Several individuals with INS read more rapidly than healthy control volunteers.
These findings demonstrate that volunteers with INS learn to manipulate their nystagmus using a range of strategies to acquire visual information from the text. These strategies include taking advantage of the stereotypical and periodic nature of involuntary eye movements to allow the involuntary eye movements to achieve the desired goal. The versatility of these adaptations yields reading speeds in those with nystagmus that are often much better than might be expected, given the degree of foveal and ocular motor deficits.
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