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MiYoung Kwon, Rong Liu, Bhavika N. Patel, Christopher Girkin; Slow Reading in Glaucoma: Is it due to the Shrinking Visual Span in Central Vision?. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2017;58(13):5810-5818. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/iovs.17-22560.
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Glaucoma is a leading cause of blindness worldwide, characterized by progressive loss of retinal ganglion cells. Patients with bilateral glaucoma read slower than normal cohorts. Here we examined the factors that may underlie slow reading in glaucoma and determined the best predictor of reading speed in glaucoma.
A total of 38 subjects participated in this study: 17 patients with primary open-angle glaucoma (mean age = 64.71 years) and 21 age-similar normal controls (58.24 years). For each subject, we measured binocular visual acuity (BVA); binocular contrast sensitivity (BCS); stereoacuity; visual field mean deviation (MD); and the visual span (i.e., the number of letters recognizable at one glance) known to limit reading speed. The visual span was measured with a trigram letter-recognition task in which subjects identify trigrams flashed at varying letter positions left and right of the fixation. Oral reading speed was measured with short blocks of text.
Even after controlling for age, glaucoma patients showed significantly slower reading speed (by 19%, P < 0.05) and smaller visual span (by 11 bits, P < 0.001) compared to normal controls. While their BVA was relatively normal (20/20 Snellen equivalent), their BCS (P < 0.001); stereoacuity (P < 0.001); and visual field MD (P < 0.001) showed pronounced deficits. Multiple regression analysis further revealed that reading speed in glaucoma was best predicted by the visual span.
Our results showed that slower reading speed in glaucoma was closely related to the shrinkage of the visual span. Our findings further support the view that the visual span plays a limiting role in reading speed.
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