Visual acuity is associated with eye micro-movements

For a long time, visual acuity was thought to be related to the functioning of the eye's optical systems and the anatomy of the retina. However, scientists from the University of Rochester (New York, USA) found that a significant contribution to the visual perception of the world is made by micro-movements of the eyes. Their violation is the cause of visual disorders in Parkinson's disease and some other diseases. 

Even when a person fixes his gaze on an object, his eyes continue to move and make two or three movements per second. Scientists have recorded these micro-eye movements before but underestimated their contribution to visual acuity because of the very small amplitude. But compared to the size of the retinal area that is responsible for the perception of visual impulses, they are quite large and allow you to perceive much more visual information.

Scientists were able to assess the importance of micro-eye movements using the Snellen diagram, a common method in the West for evaluating visual acuity on a 20-point scale. Previously, unsatisfactory test results were associated only with defects in the optical, structural, and/or physiological properties of the eye. However, when experts were able to limit the micro-movement of the eyes, the indicators of visual acuity in the subjects decreased from 30 to 50%. 

The discovery allows us to shed light on the mechanisms of reducing visual acuity in patients with motor disorders, in particular with Parkinson's disease, and to develop methods for their correction. Specialists will also be able to create vision improvement technologies based on eye muscle training and motor rehabilitation. 

Feb. 11, 2020, 12:56 p.m.

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