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Jan Johansson, Tony Pansell, Jan Ygge, Gustaf Öqvist Seimyr; The effect of contrast on monocular versus binocular reading performance. Journal of Vision 2014;14(5):8. doi: 10.1167/14.5.8.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
The binocular advantage in reading performance is typically small. On the other hand research shows binocular reading to be remarkably robust to degraded stimulus properties. We hypothesized that this robustness may stem from an increasing binocular contribution. The main objective was to compare monocular and binocular performance at different stimulus contrasts and assess the level of binocular superiority. A secondary objective was to assess any asymmetry in performance related to ocular dominance. In a balanced repeated measures experiment 18 subjects read texts at three levels of contrast monocularly and binocularly while their eye movements were recorded. The binocular advantage increased with reduced contrast producing a 7% slower monocular reading at 40% contrast, 9% slower at 20% contrast, and 21% slower at 10% contrast. A statistically significant interaction effect was found in fixation duration displaying a more adverse effect in the monocular condition at lowest contrast. No significant effects of ocular dominance were observed. The outcome suggests that binocularity contributes increasingly to reading performance as stimulus contrast decreases. The strongest difference between monocular and binocular performance was due to fixation duration. The findings may pose a clinical point that it may be necessary to consider tests at different contrast levels when estimating reading performance.
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