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Marcello Maniglia, Kristina M. Visscher, Aaron R. Seitz; A method to characterize compensatory oculomotor strategies following simulated central vision loss. Journal of Vision 2020;20(9):15. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/jov.20.9.15.
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Loss of central vision can be partially compensated by increased use of peripheral vision. For example, patients experiencing central vision loss due to disease (macular degeneration) or healthy participants trained with simulated central vision loss, tend to develop eccentric fixation spots for reading or other visual tasks. In both patients and in simulated conditions, there are substantial individual variations in the effective use of the periphery. The factors driving these individual differences are still unclear. Although early approaches have described some dimensions of these strategies, the field is still in its initial stages and important elements are often conflated when examining gaze patterns. Here, we propose a systematic approach to characterize oculomotor strategies in cases of central vision loss that distinguishes different components: saccadic re-referencing, saccadic precision, first saccade landing dispersion, fixation stability, latency of target acquisition, and percentage of trials that are useful. We tested this approach in healthy individuals trained with a gaze-contingent display obstructing the central 10 degrees of the visual field. The use of simulated scotoma helps overcome known challenges in clinical research, from recruitment and compliance to the diverse extent and nature of the visual loss. Importantly, this approach offers the ability to examine oculomotor strategies as they develop in controlled settings where viewing conditions are similar across participants. Results show substantial differences in characteristics of peripheral looking strategies, both across trials and individuals. This more complete characterization of peripheral looking strategies can help us understand individual differences in rehabilitation after central vision loss.
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