An investigation of reading ability and visual function with eccentric visual field
This study investigated the detrimental effect of central field loss (CFL) on reading ability and general visual function. The aim was to improve the understanding of reading with eccentric retina in order that reading performances of individuals with CFL may be maximised. To improve visual ability of individuals with CFL, it is important to be able to accurately measure the outcome of any intervention. Various methods for determining visual function were therefore compared with perceived visual performance (as measured with a quality of life questionnaire) before and after surgical removal of choroidal new vessels (CNV) in macular disease patients. The results highlight the importance of low contrast measures (low contrast visual acuity and contrast sensitivity) when investigating perceived reading performance. Reading speed was found to be important for reflecting changes in general visual quality of life. Potential causes for reduced peripheral reading ability were investigated using both normally sighted and CFL subjects. For normally sighted subjects reading eccentrically with rapid serial visual presentation (RSVP) text, the inferior visual field was a better position (in terms of reading speed) for the presentation of the text. The size of the visual span was found to reduce with increasing eccentricity of fixation, providing a potential reason for reduced peripheral reading performances. The investigation of the ability to use context when reading with peripheral retina resulted in conflicting results. Studies in this thesis found both a reduction and no reduction in the ability of the peripheral retina to utilise context compared to the fovea. Individuals with long-term CFL showed no improvement in peripheral reading ability over that found for normally sighted subjects reading at the same eccentricity.