Objective: To compare the impact of unilateral versus bilateral age-related macular degeneration (AMD) on saccadic movements, and to show the effect of visual search training on these eye movement performances in AMD subjects. We hypothesized that unilateral and bilateral AMD subjects had abnormal saccadic performances, and that visual search training could improve their performances.
Methods: Three groups participated in visual search training: 13 elderly unilateral AMD subjects (mean age: 74.6 ± 1.6 years), 15 elderly bilateral AMD subjects (mean age: 74.2 ± 1.2 years), and 15 healthy age-matched control subjects (mean age: 70.9 ± 1.3 years). Horizontal saccadic performances were recorded before and after visual search training (Metrisquare®) with the Mobile Eye Tracker (Mobile EBT®). We analyzed the saccadic movement performances: latency, mean velocity and gain. We measured the training performances for each exercise: the time, the number of omissions and the number of errors. We analyzed the performances with Kruskal-Wallis and post-hoc tests.
Results: The latency of saccades in AMD subjects is significantly longer compared to healthy elderly for 15° (p<0.03), 10° (p<0.003) and 5° (p<10-3). Unilateral and bilateral AMD subjects normalized their latency of saccades after training for small saccades (respectively p=0.30 and p=0.23 for 10°, and p=0.09 and p=0.52 for 5°). In elderly, performances depend on the saccade’s amplitude.
Conclusion: AMD subjects’ saccadic movements are disrupted: the execution needs more time but is efficient. The visual search training improved the saccadic performances in AMD subjects. Further studies will aim to improve knowledge on such issues and to explore the benefit of training over time in unilateral AMD subjects.