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Muriel Dysli, Mathias Abegg; Gaze-dependent phoria and vergence adaptation. Journal of Vision 2016;16(3):2. doi: 10.1167/16.3.2.
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© 2017 Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology.
Incomitance is a condition with gaze-dependent deviations of ocular alignment and is common in strabismus patients. The physiological mechanisms that maintain equal horizontal ocular alignment in all gaze directions (concomitance) in healthy individuals are poorly explored. We investigate adaptive processes in the vergence system that are induced by horizontal incomitant vergence stimuli (stimuli that require a gaze-dependent vergence response in order to re-establish binocular single vision). We measured horizontal vergence responses elicited after healthy subjects shifted their gaze from a position that required no vergence to a position that required convergence. Repetitive saccades into a position with a convergence stimulus rapidly decreased phoria (defined as the deviation of ocular alignment in the absence of a binocular stimulus). This change of phoria was present in all viewing directions (from 0° to 0.86° ± 0.40°, p < 0.001) but was more pronounced in the gaze direction with a convergence stimulus (from 0.26° ± 0.13° to 1.39° ± 0.33°, p < 0.001). We also found that vergence velocity rapidly increased (p = 0.015) and vergence latency promptly decreased (p < 0.001). We found gaze-dependent modulation of phoria in combined saccade–vergence eye movements and also in pursuit–vergence eye movements. Thus, acute horizontal, gaze-dependent changes of vergence, such as may be encountered in new onset strabismus due to paralysis, can rapidly increase vergence velocity and decrease latency. Gaze-specific (concomitant) and gaze-independent (incomitant) phoria levels will adapt. These early adaptive processes increase the efficacy of binocular vision and maintain good ocular alignment in all directions of gaze.
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