Abnormal eye movements and link to Age-related Macular Degeneration

Certain abnormalities in eye movement and fixation may contribute to the problems in recognising faces that people who suffer from age-related macular degeneration (AMD) have, according to a new study in Optometry and Vision Science.

The research suggests that people with AMD are unable to focus on ‘internal features’ like eyes, nose and mouth when looking at an image of a face.

They also discovered that the control group of ‘normal’ participants tended to make fewer and shorter eye movements than AMD patients, leading to hope that in the future it may be able to train individuals to control their eye scanning and movement to help improve face recognition.

Current estimates suggest that the overall prevalence (how many people are affected) of late stage (sight threatening) AMD is approximately 2.4% of the British population.

Of the two types of age-related macular degeneration, the ‘wet’ type generally causes the most drastic visual loss but treatment is available for some individuals.

The ‘dry’ version is most common, affecting about 90% of sufferers, and does not respond to any available treatment, and so this report offers some hope to those affected in the future.

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