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1.  Training shortens search times in children with visual impairment accompanied by nystagmus 
Perceptual learning (PL) can improve near visual acuity (NVA) in 4–9 year old children with visual impairment (VI). However, the mechanisms underlying improved NVA are unknown. The present study compares feature search and oculomotor measures in 4–9 year old children with VI accompanied by nystagmus (VI+nys [n = 33]) and children with normal vision (NV [n = 29]). Children in the VI+nys group were divided into three training groups: an experimental PL group, a control PL group, and a magnifier group. They were seen before (baseline) and after 6 weeks of training. Children with NV were only seen at baseline. The feature search task entailed finding a target E among distractor E's (pointing right) with element spacing varied in four steps: 0.04°, 0.5°, 1°, and 2°. At baseline, children with VI+nys showed longer search times, shorter fixation durations, and larger saccade amplitudes than children with NV. After training, all training groups showed shorter search times. Only the experimental PL group showed prolonged fixation duration after training at 0.5° and 2° spacing, p's respectively 0.033 and 0.021. Prolonged fixation duration was associated with reduced crowding and improved crowded NVA. One of the mechanisms underlying improved crowded NVA after PL in children with VI+nys seems to be prolonged fixation duration.
PMCID: PMC4162385  PMID: 25309473
perceptual learning; fixation duration; visual impairment; visual search
2.  A systematic review on ‘Foveal Crowding’ in visually impaired children and perceptual learning as a method to reduce Crowding 
BMC Ophthalmology  2012;12:27.
This systematic review gives an overview of foveal crowding (the inability to recognize objects due to surrounding nearby contours in foveal vision) and possible interventions. Foveal crowding can have a major effect on reading rate and deciphering small pieces of information from busy visual scenes. Three specific groups experience more foveal crowding than adults with normal vision (NV): 1) children with NV, 2) visually impaired (VI) children and adults and 3) children with cerebral visual impairment (CVI). The extent and magnitude of foveal crowding as well as interventions aimed at reducing crowding were investigated in this review. The twofold goal of this review is : [A] to compare foveal crowding in children with NV, VI children and adults and CVI children and [B] to compare interventions to reduce crowding.
Three electronic databases were used to conduct the literature search: PubMed, PsycINFO (Ovid), and Cochrane. Additional studies were identified by contacting experts. Search terms included visual perception, contour interaction, crowding, crowded, and contour interactions.
Children with normal vision show an extent of contour interaction over an area 1.5–3× as large as that seen in adults NV. The magnitude of contour interaction normally ranges between 1–2 lines on an acuity chart and this magnitude is even larger when stimuli are arranged in a circular configuration. Adults with congenital nystagmus (CN) show interaction areas that are 2× larger than those seen adults with NV. The magnitude of the crowding effect is also 2× as large in individuals with CN as in individuals with NV. Finally, children with CVI experience a magnitude of the crowding effect that is 3× the size of that experienced by adults with NV.
The methodological heterogeneity, the diversity in paradigms used to measure crowding, made it impossible to conduct a meta-analysis. This is the first systematic review to compare crowding ratios and it shows that charts with 50% interoptotype spacing were most sensitive to capture crowding effects. The groups that showed the largest crowding effects were individuals with CN, VI adults with central scotomas and children with CVI. Perceptual Learning seems to be a promising technique to reduce excessive foveal crowding effects.
PMCID: PMC3416571  PMID: 22824242

Results 1-2 (2)