Smooth pursuit eye movements in patients with macular degeneration

TitleSmooth pursuit eye movements in patients with macular degeneration
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsShanidze, N, Fusco, G, Potapchuk, E, Heinen, SJ, Verghese, P
JournalJournal of vision

Currently, there are no quantitative studies of smooth pursuit, a behavior attributed to the fovea, in individuals with macular degeneration (MD). We hypothesize that pursuit in MD patients depends on the relative positions of the scotoma and target trajectory. We tested this hypothesis with a scanning laser ophthalmoscope (SLO), which allows for direct visualization of the target on the damaged retina. Monocular microperimetry and eye movements were assessed in eleven individuals with differing degrees of MD. Observers were asked to visually track a 1.7 degrees target that moved in one of eight radial directions at 5 degrees /s-6 degrees /s. Consistent with our hypothesis, pursuit metrics depended on whether the target moved into or out of scotoma. Pursuit gains decreased with increasing scotoma extent in the target's heading direction (p = 0.017). Latencies were higher when the scotoma was present along the target trajectory (in either starting or heading directions, p < 0.001). Furthermore, an analysis of retinal position shows that targets fell on the fixational locus nearly 50% of the time. The results suggest that MD patients are capable of smooth pursuit eye movements, but are limited by target trajectory and scotoma characteristics.

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