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Aaron P. Johnson, Heather Woods-Fry, Walter Wittich; Effects of Magnification on Emotion Perception in Patients With Age-Related Macular Degeneration. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2017;58(5):2520-2526. doi: 10.1167/iovs.16-21349.
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Individuals with low vision often experience difficulties in performing tasks of daily living, such as face perception. This leads them to having difficulties with social interactions, as they can no longer correctly perceive the emotion of others. The present study investigated the effects of magnification on face perception in participants with age-related macular degeneration (AMD), and their ability to detect and categorize emotions. It was hypothesized that patients with AMD would be less accurate in comparison to healthy controls, but that magnification would improve their performance to that of controls.
Faces containing happy, angry, or neutral emotion were both doubled (equivalent of arm's length distance) and decreased by half in size (equivalent of across the street). The ability to detect and to discriminate emotional content was compared between 20 AMD patients and 7 age-matched controls. Eye movements were recorded while conducting both tasks.
Regardless of stimulus size, when compared to controls, we observed that individuals with AMD consistently performed with lower accuracy in both emotion detection and categorization tasks. Moreover, having images undergo a 2-fold increase in size did improve performance, but did not equate AMD participants' performance to that of the controls in either the emotion detection or categorization task. Eye movements in AMD participants were highly variable in position compared to controls.
The data suggest that magnification alone does not appear to be the answer for improving emotion perception within individuals with low vision. Next steps should include an evaluation of the effects of viewing strategy.
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