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Vijay K. Tailor, Maria Theodorou, Annegret H. Dahlmann-Noor, Tessa M. Dekker, John A. Greenwood; Eye movements elevate crowding in idiopathic infantile nystagmus syndrome. Journal of Vision 2021;21(13):9. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/jov.21.13.9.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Idiopathic infantile nystagmus syndrome is a disorder characterised by involuntary eye movements, which leads to decreased acuity and visual function. One such function is visual crowding – a process whereby objects that are easily recognised in isolation become impaired by nearby flankers. Crowding typically occurs in the peripheral visual field, although elevations in foveal vision have been reported in congenital nystagmus, similar to those found with amblyopia. Here, we examine whether elevated foveal crowding with nystagmus is driven by similar mechanisms to those of amblyopia – long-term neural changes associated with a sensory deficit – or by the momentary displacement of the stimulus through nystagmus eye movements. A Landolt-C orientation identification task was used to measure threshold gap sizes with and without either horizontally or vertically placed Landolt-C flankers. We assume that a sensory deficit should give equivalent crowding in these two dimensions, whereas an origin in eye movements should give stronger crowding with horizontal flankers given the predominantly horizontal eye movements of nystagmus. We observe elevations in nystagmic crowding that are above crowding in typical vision but below that of amblyopia. Consistent with an origin in eye movements, elevations were stronger with horizontal than vertical flankers in nystagmus, but not in typical or amblyopic vision. We further demonstrate the same horizontal elongation in typical vision with stimulus movement that simulates nystagmus. Consequently, we propose that the origin of nystagmic crowding lies in the eye movements, either through image smear of the target and flanker elements or through relocation of the stimulus into the peripheral retina.
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