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David B. Elliott, Alexander A. Black, Joanne M. Wood; Subjective Verticality Is Disrupted by Astigmatic Visual Distortion in Older People. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2020;61(4):12. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/iovs.61.4.12.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
There is little research evidence to explain why older adults have more problems adapting to new spectacles incorporating astigmatic changes than younger adults. We tested the hypothesis that astigmatic lenses oriented obliquely would lead to errors in verticality perception that are greater for older than younger adults.
Participants included 12 young (mean ± SD age 25.1 ± 5.0 years) and 12 older (70.2 ± 6.3 years) adults with normal vision. Verticality perception was assessed using a computer-based subjective visual vertical (SVV) task, under static and dynamic (in the presence of a moving peripheral distractor) conditions and when viewing targets through the near refractive correction (control condition), and two forms of astigmatic lenses oriented in the vertical, horizontal, and oblique meridians.
The older group demonstrated much greater dynamic SVV errors (e.g., 3.4° for the control condition) than the younger group (1.2°, P = 0.002), larger errors with vertical and horizontal astigmatic lenses (older group 4.1°and 5.2° for toric and magnifier lenses vs. younger group 1.2° and 1.4°, respectively, P < 0.001), and a larger influence of the oblique astigmatic lenses (older group 5.6° vs. younger group 2.1°, P<0.001).
Astigmatic lenses produced little or no errors in SVV in young adults, but large static and dynamic SVV errors in older adults. This indicates a greater reliance on visual input with increased age for SVV, and helps explain why oblique astigmatic refractive corrections can cause dizziness in older patients and why they report greater difficulties adapting to new spectacles with astigmatic changes.
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