Reduced vergence adaptation is associated with a prolonged output of convergence accommodation in convergence insufficiency

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Convergence insufficiency (CI) is a developmental visual anomaly defined clinically by a reduced near point of convergence, a reduced capacity to view through base-out prisms (fusional convergence); coupled with asthenopic symptoms typically blur and diplopia. Experimental studies show reduced vergence parameters and tonic adaptation. Based upon current models of accommodation and vergence, we hypothesize that the reduced vergence adaptation in CI leads to excessive amounts of convergence accommodation (CA). Eleven CI participants (mean age = 17.4 ± 2.3 years) were recruited with reduced capacity to view through increasing magnitudes of base out (BO) prisms (mean fusional convergence at 40 cm = 12 ± 0.9Δ). Testing followed our previous experimental design for (n = 11) binocularly normal adults. Binocular fixation of a difference of Gaussian (DoG) target (0.2 cpd) elicited CA responses during vergence adaptation to a 12Δ BO. Vergence and CA responses were obtained at 3 min intervals over a 15 min period and time course were quantified using exponential decay functions. Results were compared to previously published data on eleven binocular normals. Eight participants completed the study. CI's showed significantly reduced magnitude of vergence adaptation (CI: 2.9Δ vs. normals: 6.6Δ; p = 0.01) and CA reduction (CI = 0.21D, Normals = 0.55D; p = 0.03). However, the decay time constants for adaptation and CA responses were not significantly different. CA changes were not confounded by changes in tonic accommodation (Change in TA = 0.01 ± 0.2D; p = 0.8). The reduced magnitude of vergence adaptation found in CI patients resulting in higher levels of CA may potentially explain their clinical findings of reduced positive fusional vergence (PFV) and the common symptom of blur.

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