PURPOSE: To compare blind-side detection performance of drivers with homonymous hemianopia (HH) for stationary and approaching pedestrians, initially appearing at small (4°) or large (14°) eccentricities in a driving simulator. While the stationary pedestrians did not represent an imminent threat, as their eccentricity increased rapidly as the vehicle advanced, the approaching pedestrians maintained a collision course with approximately constant eccentricity, walking or running, toward the travel lane as if to cross. METHODS: Twelve participants with complete HH and without spatial neglect pressed the horn whenever they detected a pedestrian while driving along predetermined routes in two driving simulator sessions. Miss rates and reaction times were analyzed for 52 stationary and 52 approaching pedestrians. RESULTS: Miss rates were higher and reaction times longer on the blind than the seeing side (P < 0.01). On the blind side, miss rates were lower for approaching than stationary pedestrians (16% vs. 29%, P = 0.01), especially at larger eccentricities (20% vs. 54%, P = 0.005), but reaction times for approaching pedestrians were longer (1.72 vs. 1.41 seconds; P = 0.03). Overall, the proportion of potential blind-side collisions (missed and late responses) was not different for the two paradigms (41% vs. 35%, P = 0.48), and significantly higher than for the seeing side (3%, P = 0.002). CONCLUSIONS: In a realistic pedestrian detection task, drivers with HH exhibited significant blind-side detection deficits. Even when approaching pedestrians were detected, responses were often too late to avoid a potential collision.
PURPOSE: The ability of visually impaired people to deploy attention effectively to maximize use of their residual vision in dynamic situations is fundamental to safe mobility. We conducted a pilot study to evaluate whether tests of dynamic attention (multiple object tracking; MOT) and static attention (Useful Field of View; UFOV) were predictive of the ability of people with central field loss (CFL) to detect pedestrian hazards in simulated driving. METHODS: 11 people with bilateral CFL (visual acuity 20/30-20/200) and 11 age-similar normally-sighted drivers participated. Dynamic and static attention were evaluated with brief, computer-based MOT and UFOV tasks, respectively. Dependent variables were the log speed threshold for 60% correct identification of targets (MOT) and the increase in the presentation duration for 75% correct identification of a central target when a concurrent peripheral task was added (UFOV divided and selective attention subtests). Participants drove in a simulator and pressed the horn whenever they detected pedestrians that walked or ran toward the road. The dependent variable was the proportion of timely reactions (could have stopped in time to avoid a collision). RESULTS: UFOV and MOT performance of CFL participants was poorer than that of controls, and the proportion of timely reactions was also lower (worse) (84% and 97%, respectively; p = 0.001). For CFL participants, higher proportions of timely reactions correlated significantly with higher (better) MOT speed thresholds (r = 0.73, p = 0.01), with better performance on the UFOV divided and selective attention subtests (r = -0.66 and -0.62, respectively, p<0.04), with better contrast sensitivity scores (r = 0.54, p = 0.08) and smaller scotomas (r = -0.60, p = 0.05). CONCLUSIONS: Our results suggest that brief laboratory-based tests of visual attention may provide useful measures of functional visual ability of individuals with CFL relevant to more complex mobility tasks.
Objective. The perception of individuals fitted with retinal prostheses is not fully understood, although several retinal implants have been tested and commercialized. Realistic simulations of perception with retinal implants would be useful for future development and evaluation of such systems.Approach.We implemented a retinal prosthetic vision simulation, including temporal features, which have not been previously simulated. In particular, the simulation included temporal aspects such as persistence and perceptual fading of phosphenes and the electrode activation rate.Main results.The simulated phosphene persistence showed an effective reduction in flickering at low electrode activation rates. Although persistence has a positive effect on static scenes, it smears dynamic scenes. Perceptual fading following continuous stimulation affects prosthetic vision of both static and dynamic scenes by making them disappear completely or partially. However, we showed that perceptual fading of a static stimulus might be countered by head-scanning motions, which together with the persistence revealed the contours of the faded object. We also showed that changing the image polarity may improve simulated prosthetic vision in the presence of persistence and perceptual fading.Significance.Temporal aspects have important roles in prosthetic vision, as illustrated by the simulations. Considering these aspects may improve the future design, the training with, and evaluation of retinal prostheses.
PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Spatial neglect is asymmetric orienting and action after a brain lesion, causing functional disability. It is common after a stroke; however, it is vastly underdocumented and undertreated. This article addresses the implementation gap in identifying and treating spatial neglect, to reduce disability and improve healthcare costs and burden. RECENT FINDINGS: Professional organizations published recommendations to implement spatial neglect care. Physicians can lead an interdisciplinary team: functionally relevant spatial neglect assessment, evidence-based spatial retraining, and integrated spatial and vision interventions can optimize outcomes. Research also strongly suggests spatial neglect adversely affects motor systems. Spatial neglect therapy might thus "kick-start" rehabilitation and improve paralysis recovery. Clinicians can implement new techniques to detect spatial neglect and lead interdisciplinary teams to promote better, integrated spatial neglect care. Future studies of brain imaging biomarkers to detect spatial neglect, and real-world applicability of prism adaptation treatment, are needed.
Symmetry is an organizational principle that is ubiquitous throughout the visual world. However, this property can also be detected through non-visual modalities such as touch. The role of prior visual experience on detecting tactile patterns containing symmetry remains unclear. We compared the behavioral performance of early blind and sighted (blindfolded) controls on a tactile symmetry detection task. The tactile patterns used were similar in design and complexity as in previous visual perceptual studies. The neural correlates associated with this behavioral task were identified with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). In line with growing evidence demonstrating enhanced tactile processing abilities in the blind, we found that early blind individuals showed significantly superior performance in detecting tactile symmetric patterns compared to sighted controls. Furthermore, comparing patterns of activation between these two groups identified common areas of activation (e.g. superior parietal cortex) but key differences also emerged. In particular, tactile symmetry detection in the early blind was also associated with activation that included peri-calcarine cortex, lateral occipital (LO), and middle temporal (MT) cortex, as well as inferior temporal and fusiform cortex. These results contribute to the growing evidence supporting superior behavioral abilities in the blind, and the neural correlates associated with crossmodal neuroplasticity following visual deprivation.
Due to chromatic aberration, blue images are defocused when the eye is focused to the middle of the visible spectrum, yet we normally are not aware of chromatic blur. The eye suffers from monochromatic aberrations which degrade the optical quality of all images projected on the retina. The combination of monochromatic and chromatic aberrations is not additive and these aberrations may interact to improve image quality. Using Adaptive Optics, we investigated the optical and visual effects of correcting monochromatic aberrations when viewing polychromatic grayscale, green, and blue images. Correcting the eye's monochromatic aberrations improved optical quality of the focused green images and degraded the optical quality of defocused blue images, particularly in eyes with higher amounts of monochromatic aberrations. Perceptual judgments of image quality tracked the optical findings, but the perceptual impact of the monochromatic aberrations correction was smaller than the optical predictions. The visual system appears to be adapted to the blur produced by the native monochromatic aberrations, and possibly to defocus in blue.
Daily activities require the constant searching and tracking of visual targets in dynamic and complex scenes. Classic work assessing visual search performance has been dominated by the use of simple geometric shapes, patterns, and static backgrounds. Recently, there has been a shift toward investigating visual search in more naturalistic dynamic scenes using virtual reality (VR)-based paradigms. In this direction, we have developed a first-person perspective VR environment combined with eye tracking for the capture of a variety of objective measures. Participants were instructed to search for a preselected human target walking in a crowded hallway setting. Performance was quantified based on saccade and smooth pursuit ocular motor behavior. To assess the effect of task difficulty, we manipulated factors of the visual scene, including crowd density (i.e., number of surrounding distractors) and the presence of environmental clutter. In general, results showed a pattern of worsening performance with increasing crowd density. In contrast, the presence of visual clutter had no effect. These results demonstrate how visual search performance can be investigated using VR-based naturalistic dynamic scenes and with high behavioral relevance. This engaging platform may also have utility in assessing visual search in a variety of clinical populations of interest.
Migraine-type photophobia, most commonly described as exacerbation of headache by light, affects nearly 90% of the patients. It is the most bothersome symptom accompanying an attack. Using subjective psychophysical assessments, we showed that migraine patients are more sensitive to all colors of light during ictal than during interictal phase and that control subjects do not experience pain when exposed to different colors of light. Based on these findings, we suggested that color preference is unique to migraineurs (as it was not found in control subjects) rather than migraine phase (as it was found in both phases). To identify the origin of this photophobia in migraineurs, we compared the electrical waveforms that were generated in the retina and visual cortex of 46 interictal migraineurs to those generated in 42 healthy controls using color-based electroretinography and visual-evoked potential paradigms. Unexpectedly, it was the amplitude of the retinal rod-driven b wave, which was consistently larger (by 14%-19% in the light-adapted and 18%-34% in the dark-adapted flash ERG) in the migraineurs than in the controls, rather than the retinal cone-driven a wave or the visual-evoked potentials that differs most strikingly between the 2 groups. Mechanistically, these findings suggest that the inherent hypersensitivity to light among migraine patients may originate in the retinal rods rather than retinal cones or the visual cortex. Clinically, the findings may explain why migraineurs complain that the light is too bright even when it is dim to the extent that nonmigraineurs feel as if they are in a cave.
PURPOSE: Using a driving simulator, we examined the effects of homonymous hemianopia (HH) on head scanning behaviors at intersections and evaluated the role of inadequate head scanning in detection failures. METHODS: Fourteen people with complete HH and without cognitive decline or visual neglect and 12 normally sighted (NV) current drivers participated. They drove in an urban environment following predetermined routes, which included multiple intersections. Head scanning behaviors were quantified at T-intersections (n = 32) with a stop or yield sign. Participants also performed a pedestrian detection task. The relationship between head scanning and detection was examined at 10 intersections. RESULTS: For HH drivers, the first scan was more likely to be toward the blind than the seeing hemifield. They also made a greater proportion of head scans overall to the blind side than did the NV drivers to the corresponding side (P = 0.003). However, head scan magnitudes of HH drivers were smaller than those of the NV group (P < 0.001). Drivers with HH had impaired detection of blind-side pedestrians due either to not scanning in the direction of the pedestrian or to an insufficient scan magnitude (left HH detected only 46% and right HH 8% at the extreme left and right of the intersection, respectively). CONCLUSIONS: Drivers with HH demonstrated compensatory head scan patterns, but not scan magnitudes. Inadequate scanning resulted in blind-side detection failures, which might place HH drivers at increased risk for collisions at intersections. Scanning training tailored to specific problem areas identified in this study might be beneficial.
PURPOSE: To investigate the telescope use and driving patterns of bioptic drivers with age-related macular degeneration (AMD). METHODS: A questionnaire addressing telescope use and driving patterns was administered by telephone interview to three groups of bioptic drivers: AMD (n = 31; median 76 years); non-AMD first licensed with a bioptic (n = 38; 53 years); and non-AMD first licensed without a bioptic (n = 47; 37 years). Driving patterns of bioptic AMD drivers were also compared with those of normal vision (NV) drivers (n = 36; 74 years) and nonbioptic AMD drivers (n = 34; 79 years). RESULTS: Bioptic usage patterns of AMD drivers did not differ from those of the younger bioptic drivers and greater visual difficulty without the bioptic was strongly correlated with greater bioptic helpfulness. Bioptic AMD drivers were more likely to report avoidance of night driving than the age-similar NV drivers (P = 0.06). However, they reported less difficulty than the nonbioptic AMD drivers in all driving situations (P ≤ 0.02). Weekly mileages of bioptic AMD drivers were lower than those of the younger bioptic drivers (P < 0.001), but not the NV group (P = 0.54), and were higher than those of the nonbioptic AMD group (P < 0.001). CONCLUSIONS: Our results suggest that bioptic telescopes met the visual demands of drivers with AMD and that those drivers had relatively unrestricted driving habits. TRANSLATIONAL RELEVANCE: Licensure with a bioptic telescope may prolong driving of older adults with AMD; however, objective measures of bioptic use, driving performance, and safety are needed.
Driving is an important rehabilitation goal for patients with homonymous field defects (HFDs); however, whether or not people with HFDs should be permitted to drive is not clear. Over the last 15 years, there has been a marked increase in the number of studies evaluating the effects of HFDs on driving performance. This review of the literature provides a much-needed summary for practitioners and researchers, addressing the following topics: regulations pertaining to driving with HFDs, self-reported driving difficulties, pass rates in on-road tests, the effects of HFDs on lane position and steering stability, the effects of HFDs on scanning and detection of potential hazards, screening for potential fitness to drive, evaluating practical fitness to drive and the efficacy of interventions to improve driving of persons with HFDs. Although there is clear evidence from on-road studies that some people with HFDs may be rated as safe to drive, others are reported to have significant deficits in skills important for safe driving, including taking a lane position too close to one side of the travel lane, unstable steering and inadequate viewing (scanning) behaviour. Driving simulator studies have provided strong evidence of a wide range in compensatory scanning abilities and detection performance, despite similar amounts of visual field loss. Conventional measurements of visual field extent (in which eye movements are not permitted) do not measure such compensatory abilities and are not predictive of on-road driving performance. Thus, there is a need to develop better tests to screen people with HFDs for visual fitness to drive. We are not yet at a point where we can predict which HFD patient is likely to be a safe driver. Therefore, it seems only fair to provide an opportunity for individualised assessments of practical fitness to drive either on the road and/or in a driving simulator.
IMPORTANCE: There is a major lack of randomized controlled clinical trials evaluating the efficacy of prismatic treatments for hemianopia. Evidence for their effectiveness is mostly based on anecdotal case reports and open-label evaluations without a control condition. OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the efficacy of real relative to sham peripheral prism glasses for patients with complete homonymous hemianopia. DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS: Double-masked, randomized crossover trial at 13 study sites, including the Peli laboratory at Schepens Eye Research Institute, 11 vision rehabilitation clinics in the United States, and 1 in the United Kingdom. Patients were 18 years or older with complete homonymous hemianopia for at least 3 months and without visual neglect or significant cognitive decline. INTERVENTION: Patients were allocated by minimization into 2 groups. One group received real (57-prism diopter) oblique and sham (<5-prism diopter) horizontal prisms; the other received real horizontal and sham oblique, in counterbalanced order. Each crossover period was 4 weeks. MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES: The primary outcome was the overall difference, across the 2 periods of the crossover, between the proportion of participants who wanted to continue with (said yes to) real prisms and the proportion who said yes to sham prisms. The secondary outcome was the difference in perceived mobility improvement between real and sham prisms. RESULTS: Of 73 patients randomized, 61 completed the crossover. A significantly higher proportion said yes to real than sham prisms (64% vs 36%; odds ratio, 5.3; 95% CI, 1.8-21.0). Participants who continued wear after 6 months reported greater improvement in mobility with real than sham prisms at crossover end (P = .002); participants who discontinued wear reported no difference. CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE: Real peripheral prism glasses were more helpful for obstacle avoidance when walking than sham glasses, with no differences between the horizontal and oblique designs. Peripheral prism glasses provide a simple and inexpensive mobility rehabilitation intervention for hemianopia. TRIAL REGISTRATION: clinicaltrials.gov Identifier: NCT00494676.
Aims. Homonymous hemianopia (HH), a severe visual consequence of stroke, causes difficulties in detecting obstacles on the nonseeing (blind) side. We conducted a pilot study to evaluate the effects of oblique peripheral prisms, a novel development in optical treatments for HH, on detection of unexpected hazards when driving. Methods. Twelve people with complete HH (median 49 years, range 29-68) completed road tests with sham oblique prism glasses (SP) and real oblique prism glasses (RP). A masked evaluator rated driving performance along the 25 km routes on busy streets in Ghent, Belgium. Results. The proportion of satisfactory responses to unexpected hazards on the blind side was higher in the RP than the SP drive (80% versus 30%; P = 0.001), but similar for unexpected hazards on the seeing side. Conclusions. These pilot data suggest that oblique peripheral prisms may improve responses of people with HH to blindside hazards when driving and provide the basis for a future, larger-sample clinical trial. Testing responses to unexpected hazards in areas of heavy vehicle and pedestrian traffic appears promising as a real-world outcome measure for future evaluations of HH rehabilitation interventions aimed at improving detection when driving.
OBJECTIVES: To conduct a pilot study to evaluate the predictive value of the Montreal Cognitive Assessment test (MoCA) and a brief test of multiple object tracking (MOT) relative to other tests of cognition and attention in identifying at-risk older drivers, and to determine which combination of tests provided the best overall prediction. METHODS: Forty-seven currently licensed drivers (58-95 years), primarily from a clinical driving evaluation program, participated. Their performance was measured on: (1) a screening test battery, comprising MoCA, MOT, Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE), Trail-Making Test, visual acuity, contrast sensitivity, and Useful Field of View (UFOV) and (2) a standardized road test. RESULTS: Eighteen participants were rated at-risk on the road test. UFOV subtest 2 was the best single predictor with an area under the curve (AUC) of .84. Neither MoCA nor MOT was a better predictor of the at-risk outcome than either MMSE or UFOV, respectively. The best four-test combination (MMSE, UFOV subtest 2, visual acuity and contrast sensitivity) was able to identify at-risk drivers with 95% specificity and 80% sensitivity (.91 AUC). CONCLUSIONS: Although the best four-test combination was much better than a single test in identifying at-risk drivers, there is still much work to do in this field to establish test batteries that have both high sensitivity and specificity.
We determined whether binocular central scotomas above or below the preferred retinal locus affect detection of hazards (pedestrians) approaching from the side. Seven participants with central field loss (CFL), and seven age-and sex-matched controls with normal vision (NV), each completed two sessions of 5 test drives (each approximately 10 minutes long) in a driving simulator. Participants pressed the horn when detecting pedestrians that appeared at one of four eccentricities (-14°, -4°, left, 4°, or 14°, right, relative to car heading). Pedestrians walked or ran towards the travel lane on a collision course with the participant's vehicle, thus remaining in the same area of the visual field, assuming participant's steady forward gaze down the travel lane. Detection rates were nearly 100% for all participants. CFL participant reaction times were longer (median 2.27s, 95% CI 2.13 to 2.47) than NVs (median 1.17s, 95%CI 1.10 to 2.13; difference p<0.01), and CFL participants would have been unable to stop for 21% of pedestrians, compared with 3% for NV, p<0.001. Although the scotomas were not expected to obscure pedestrian hazards, gaze tracking revealed that scotomas did sometimes interfere with detection; late reactions usually occurred when pedestrians were entirely or partially obscured by the scotoma (time obscured correlated with reaction times, r = 0.57, p<0.001). We previously showed that scotomas lateral to the preferred retinal locus delay reaction times to a greater extent; however, taken together, the results of our studies suggest that any binocular CFL might negatively impact timely hazard detection while driving and should be a consideration when evaluating vision for driving.
Converging evidence suggests that the perception of auditory pitch exhibits a characteristic spatial organization. This pitch-space association can be demonstrated experimentally by the Spatial Musical Association of Response Codes (SMARC) effect. This is characterized by faster response times when a low-positioned key is pressed in response to a low-pitched tone, and a high-positioned key is pressed in response to a high-pitched tone. To investigate whether the development of this pitch-space association is mediated by normal visual experience, we tested a group of early blind individuals on a task that required them to discriminate the timbre of different instrument sounds with varying pitch. Results revealed a comparable pattern in the SMARC effect in both blind participants and sighted controls, suggesting that the lack of prior visual experience does not prevent the development of an association between pitch height and vertical space.
For individuals who are blind, navigating independently in an unfamiliar environment represents a considerable challenge. Inspired by the rising popularity of video games, we have developed a novel approach to train navigation and spatial cognition skills in adolescents who are blind. Audio-based Environment Simulator (AbES) is a software application that allows for the virtual exploration of an existing building set in an action video game metaphor. Using this ludic-based approach to learning, we investigated the ability and efficacy of adolescents with early onset blindness to acquire spatial information gained from the exploration of a target virtual indoor environment. Following game play, participants were assessed on their ability to transfer and mentally manipulate acquired spatial information on a set of navigation tasks carried out in the real environment. Success in transfer of navigation skill performance was markedly high suggesting that interacting with AbES leads to the generation of an accurate spatial mental representation. Furthermore, there was a positive correlation between success in game play and navigation task performance. The role of virtual environments and gaming in the development of mental spatial representations is also discussed. We conclude that this game based learning approach can facilitate the transfer of spatial knowledge and further, can be used by individuals who are blind for the purposes of navigation in real-world environments.
Audio-based Environment Simulator (AbES) is virtual environment software designed to improve real world navigation skills in the blind. Using only audio based cues and set within the context of a video game metaphor, users gather relevant spatial information regarding a building's layout. This allows the user to develop an accurate spatial cognitive map of a large-scale three-dimensional space that can be manipulated for the purposes of a real indoor navigation task. After game play, participants are then assessed on their ability to navigate within the target physical building represented in the game. Preliminary results suggest that early blind users were able to acquire relevant information regarding the spatial layout of a previously unfamiliar building as indexed by their performance on a series of navigation tasks. These tasks included path finding through the virtual and physical building, as well as a series of drop off tasks. We find that the immersive and highly interactive nature of the AbES software appears to greatly engage the blind user to actively explore the virtual environment. Applications of this approach may extend to larger populations of visually impaired individuals.
For profoundly blind individuals, navigating in an unfamiliar building can represent a significant challenge. We investigated the use of an audio-based, virtual environment called Audio-based Environment Simulator (AbES) that can be explored for the purposes of learning the layout of an unfamiliar, complex indoor environment. Furthermore, we compared two modes of interaction with AbES. In one group, blind participants implicitly learned the layout of a target environment while playing an exploratory, goal-directed video game. By comparison, a second group was explicitly taught the same layout following a standard route and instructions provided by a sighted facilitator. As a control, a third group interacted with AbES while playing an exploratory, goal-directed video game however, the explored environment did not correspond to the target layout. Following interaction with AbES, a series of route navigation tasks were carried out in the virtual and physical building represented in the training environment to assess the transfer of acquired spatial information. We found that participants from both modes of interaction were able to transfer the spatial knowledge gained as indexed by their successful route navigation performance. This transfer was not apparent in the control participants. Most notably, the game-based learning strategy was also associated with enhanced performance when participants were required to find alternate routes and short cuts within the target building suggesting that a ludic-based training approach may provide for a more flexible mental representation of the environment. Furthermore, outcome comparisons between early and late blind individuals suggested that greater prior visual experience did not have a significant effect on overall navigation performance following training. Finally, performance did not appear to be associated with other factors of interest such as age, gender, and verbal memory recall. We conclude that the highly interactive and immersive exploration of the virtual environment greatly engages a blind user to develop skills akin to positive near transfer of learning. Learning through a game play strategy appears to confer certain behavioral advantages with respect to how spatial information is acquired and ultimately manipulated for navigation.