Characterisation of field loss based on microperimetry is predictive of face recognition difficulties


Wallis TSA, Taylor CP, Wallis J, Jackson ML, Bex PJ. Characterisation of field loss based on microperimetry is predictive of face recognition difficulties. Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science. 2014;55(1):142-154.


Purpose: Face recognition is important for daily living, and visual field loss can impair face recognition performance. We aimed to determine how field loss as assessed by microperimetry was correlated with deficits in face recognition by characterising performance as a function of stimulus blur. Methods: Patients with impaired visual sensitivity in the central visual field caused by a variety of retinal pathologies (N = 12, ages 26–70 years) and normally-sighted control subjects (N = 12, ages 20–68 years) performed a face recognition task for blurred and un-blurred faces. For patients we assessed central visual field loss using microperimetry, fixation stability, Pelli Robson contrast sensitivity, and letter acuity. Results: Patients were divided into two groups by microperimetry: an LV group (N = 8) had impaired sensitivity at the anatomical fovea and / or poor fixation stability whereas an LV:F group was characterised by at least some residual foveal sensitivity but marked loss in other retinal regions. Both control subjects and the LV:F group showed worse recognition performance as stimulus blur increased. The LV group instead showed poor performance regardless of blur. Visual acuity and fixation stability were significantly correlated with recognition performance. Conclusions: In the present task, persons diagnosed with eye disease affecting the central visual field can recognise faces as well as persons with no visual disease provided that they have residual sensitivity in the anatomical fovea and show stable fixation patterns. Performance is limited by the poor resolution of non-foveal vision or image blur, whichever is worse.

DOI: doi:10.1167/iovs.13-12420