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Glaucoma-Related Differences in Gaze Behavior When Negotiating Obstacles

Peer reviewed: 
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Lajoie K, Miller AB, StrathRA, Neima DR, Marigold DS. Glau-coma-related differences in gazebehavior when negotiating obsta-cles. Trans Vis Sci Tech. 2018;7(4):10. DOI: 10.1167/tvst.7.4.10.

Date created: 
Obstacle avoidance

Purpose: Safe navigation requires avoiding objects. Visual field loss may affect how one visually samples the environment, and may thus contribute to bumping into objects and falls. We tested the hypothesis that gaze strategies and the number of collisions differ between people with glaucoma and normally sighted controls when navigating around obstacles, particularly under multitasking situations.

Methods: Twenty persons with moderate–severe glaucoma and 20 normally sighted controls walked around a series of irregularly spaced vertical obstacles under the following three conditions: walking with obstacles only, walking and counting backward to simulate a conversation, and walking while performing a concurrent visual search task to simulate locating a landmark. We quantified gaze patterns and the number of obstacle contacts.

Results: Compared with controls, people with glaucoma directed gaze closer to their current position (P < 0.05). They also directed a larger proportion of fixations (in terms of number and duration) to obstacles (P < 0.05). Despite this finding, considerably more people with glaucoma contacted an obstacle (P < 0.05). Multitasking led to changes in gaze behavior in both groups, and this was accompanied by a large increase in obstacle contacts among those with glaucoma (P < 0.05).

Conclusions: Glaucoma alters gaze patterns when negotiating a series of obstacles and increases the likelihood of collisions. Multitasking in this situation exacerbates these changes.

Translational Relevance: Understanding glaucoma-related changes in gaze behavior during walking in cluttered environments may provide critical insight for orientation and mobility specialists and guide the design of gaze training interventions to improve mobility.

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