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Samuel A. Titchener, Lauren N. Ayton, Carla J. Abbott, James B. Fallon, Mohit N. Shivdasani, Emily Caruso, Pyrawy Sivarajah, Matthew A. Petoe; Head and Gaze Behavior in Retinitis Pigmentosa. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2019;60(6):2263-2273. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/iovs.18-26121.
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Peripheral visual field loss (PVFL) due to retinitis pigmentosa (RP) decreases saccades to areas of visual defect, leading to a habitually confined range of eye movement. We investigated the relative contributions of head and eye movement in RP patients and normal-sighted controls to determine whether this reduced eye movement is offset by increased head movement.
Eye-head coordination was examined in 18 early-moderate RP patients, 4 late-stage RP patients, and 19 normal-sighted controls. Three metrics were extracted: the extent of eye, head, and total gaze (eye+head) movement while viewing a naturalistic scene; head gain, the ratio of head movement to total gaze movement during smooth pursuit; and the customary oculomotor range (COMR), the orbital range within which the eye is preferentially maintained during a pro-saccade task.
The late-stage RP group had minimal gaze movement and could not discern the naturalistic scene. Variance in head position in early-moderate RP was significantly greater than in controls, whereas variance in total gaze was similar. Head gain was greater in early-moderate RP than in controls, whereas COMR was smaller. Across groups, visual field extent was negatively correlated with head gain and positively correlated with COMR. Accounting for age effects, these results demonstrate increased head movement at the expense of eye movement in participants with PVFL.
RP is associated with an increased propensity for head movement during gaze shifts, and the magnitude of this effect is dependent on the severity of visual field loss.
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