Enhancing reading ability in peripheral vision is important for the rehabilitation of people with central-visual-field loss from age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Previous research has shown that perceptual learning, based on a trigram letter-recognition task, improved peripheral reading speed among normally-sighted young adults (Chung, Legge, & Cheung, 2004). Here we ask whether the same happens in older adults in an age range more typical of the onset of AMD. Eighteen normally-sighted subjects, aged 55-76. years, were randomly assigned to training or control groups. Visual-span profiles (plots of letter-recognition accuracy as a function of horizontal letter position) and RSVP reading speeds were measured at 10° above and below fixation during pre- and post-tests for all subjects. Training consisted of repeated measurements of visual-span profiles at 10° below fixation, in four daily sessions. The control subjects did not receive any training. Perceptual learning enlarged the visual spans in both trained (lower) and untrained (upper) visual fields. Reading speed improved in the trained field by 60% when the trained print size was used. The training benefits for these older subjects were weaker than the training benefits for young adults found by Chung et al. Despite the weaker training benefits, perceptual learning remains a potential option for low-vision reading rehabilitation among older adults.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Preliminary results were presented at the Vision 2005: the 8th International Conference on Low Vision Activity and Participation (Yu, Cheung, Legge & Chung, 2005 April). The authors thank the dedicated subjects for their participation in the study. This research was supported by a University of Minnesota Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship to S.-H.C., a NIH Grant EY002934 to G.E.L. and a NIH Grant EY012810 to S.T.L.C.
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- Letter recognition
- Low vision
- Perceptual learning
- Peripheral vision
- Visual rehabilitation