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Oren Yehezkel, Anna Sterkin, Maria Lev, Uri Polat; Crowding is proportional to visual acuity in young and aging eyes. Journal of Vision 2015;15(8):23. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/15.8.23.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Spatial crowding decreases object recognition and conscious visual perception in clutter. In a previous study we used brief presentation times to reveal the effects of a crowded presentation in the fovea. Here we aimed to test the relationships between varying visual acuity (VA) and crowding in the fovea, under the assumption that in uncorrected presbyopia, the processing is relatively normal, whereas the retinal input is blurred. We tested whether normal participants whose near VA is gradually reduced due to age-related deterioration (presbyopia, or “aging eye”) will show an acuity-dependent increase in foveal crowding. We used brief presentations and acuity-threshold letter targets in order to magnify the crowding-effect amplitude in the fovea. A total of 195 participants with an age range of 20–68 years and an average of 44.3 ± 11.7 years (M ± SD) were divided into four age groups, all without any optical correction for the near distance. Our findings show that crowding is proportional to VA. This proportionality is affected by VA-age dependency, with a nonlinear S-shaped pattern: A steep VA reduction begins to develop, which is compatible with the normal onset age of presbyopia symptoms and a saturation in the VA-age dependency in the oldest age group, for which we propose a VA-eccentricity account. Finally, there is a high variance in the crowding amplitude in the young, even before the onset age of presbyopia symptoms, suggesting crowding conditions with limited presentation times as a highly sensitive measure of VA, which predicts visual performance in complex tasks, such as reading.
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