Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Why do age-related macular degeneration patients have trouble recognizing faces?

Date:
January 7, 2013
Source:
Wolters Kluwer Health: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins
Summary:
Abnormalities of eye movement and fixation may contribute to difficulty in perceiving and recognizing faces among older adults with age-related macular degeneration (AMD), suggests a new study.

Abnormalities of eye movement and fixation may contribute to difficulty in perceiving and recognizing faces among older adults with age-related macular degeneration (AMD), suggests a study "Abnormal Fixation in Individuals with AMD when Viewing an Image of a Face" appearing in the January issue of Optometry and Vision Science.

Related Articles


Unlike people with normal vision focus, those with AMD don't focus on "internal features" (the eyes, nose and mouth) when looking at the image of a face, according to the study by William Seiple, PhD, and colleagues of Lighthouse International, New York. They write, "Abnormal eye movement patterns and fixations may contribute to deficits in face perception in AMD patients."

When Viewing Famous Face, AMD Patients Focus on External Features The researchers used a sophisticated technique called optical coherence tomography/scanning laser ophthalmoscopy (OCT-SLO) to examine the interior of the eye in nine patients with AMD. Age-related macular degeneration is the leading cause of vision loss in older adults. It causes gradual destruction of the macula, leading to blurring and loss of central vision.

Previous studies have suggested that people with AMD have difficulty perceiving faces. To evaluate the possible role of abnormal eye movements, Dr Seiple and colleagues used the OCT-SLO equipment to make microscopic movies of the interior of the eye (fundus, including the retina and macula) as the patients viewed one of the world's most famous faces: the Mona Lisa.

This technique allowed the researchers to record eye movements and where the patients looked (fixations) while looking at the face. They compared the findings in AMD patients to a control group of subjects with normal vision.

The results showed significant differences in eye movement patterns and fixations between groups. The AMD patients had fewer fixations on the internal features of the Mona Lisa's face -- eyes, nose, and mouth. For controls, an average of 87 percent of fixations were on internal features, compared to only 13 percent on external features. In contrast, for AMD patients, 62 percent of fixations were on internal features while 38 percent were on external features.

The normal controls also tended to make fewer and shorter eye movements (called saccades) than AMD patients. The differences between groups did not appear to be related to the blurring of vision associated with AMD.

Some older adults with AMD report difficulties perceiving faces. While the problem in "processing faces" is certainly related to the overall sensory visual loss, the new evidence suggests that specific patterns of eye movement abnormalities may also play a role.

Dr Seiple and colleagues note that "abnormal scanning patterns when viewing faces" have also been found in other conditions associated with difficulties in face perception, including autism, social phobias, and schizophrenia. The authors discuss the possible mechanisms of the abnormal scanning patterns in AMD, involving the complex interplay between the eyes and brain in governing eye movement and interpreting visual information.

A previous study suggested that drawing attention to specific characteristics -- such as the internal facial features -- may increase fixations on internal features and improve face perception. Dr Seiple and coauthors conclude, "That report gives hope that eye movement control training and training of allocation of attention could improve face perception and eye scanning behavior in individuals with AMD."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Wolters Kluwer Health: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Seiple, William, Rosen, Richard, Garcia, Patricia. Abnormal Fixation in Individuals With Age-Related Macular Degeneration When Viewing an Image of a Face. Optometry and Vision Science, January 2013 DOI: 10.1097/OPX.0b013e3182794775

Cite This Page:

Wolters Kluwer Health: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. "Why do age-related macular degeneration patients have trouble recognizing faces?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 January 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130107095349.htm>.
Wolters Kluwer Health: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. (2013, January 7). Why do age-related macular degeneration patients have trouble recognizing faces?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130107095349.htm
Wolters Kluwer Health: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. "Why do age-related macular degeneration patients have trouble recognizing faces?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130107095349.htm (accessed October 23, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Ebola Fears Keep Guinea Hospitals Empty

Ebola Fears Keep Guinea Hospitals Empty

AP (Oct. 23, 2014) Fears of Ebola are keeping doctors and patients alike away from hospitals in the West African nation of Guinea. (Oct. 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Orthodontist Mom Jennifer Salzer on the Best Time for Braces

Orthodontist Mom Jennifer Salzer on the Best Time for Braces

Working Mother (Oct. 22, 2014) Is your child ready? Video provided by Working Mother
Powered by NewsLook.com
U.S. Issues Ebola Travel Restrictions, Are Visa Bans Next?

U.S. Issues Ebola Travel Restrictions, Are Visa Bans Next?

Newsy (Oct. 22, 2014) Now that the U.S. is restricting travel from West Africa, some are dropping questions about a travel ban and instead asking about visa bans. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
More People Diagnosed With TB In 2013, But There's Good News

More People Diagnosed With TB In 2013, But There's Good News

Newsy (Oct. 22, 2014) The World Health Organizations says TB numbers rose in 2013, but it's partly due to better detection and more survivors. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins