Can visual search training help children with hemianopia?

Event Date: 

Speaker: 

Prof. Susanne Trauzettel-Klosinski, University Eye Clinic, University of Tuebingen, Germany, Visual Science Department

Host: 

Manfred MacKeben

Meeting Room: 

Room 204 - Main Conference Room

Abstract:

Background: This study investigates the effect of a computer-based visual search training (VST) that was adapted for children with hemianopia (HH).

Methods: 22 children with HH (median age 11 years, 8 months) trained at home for 15 minutes twice/day, 5 days/week, for 6 weeks. We measured search times (STs) during an on-screen test to assess performance before training (T1), directly after training (T2) and 6 weeks after the end of training (T3). We also measured eye movements (EM) during free viewing and in a real-life search task. During VS and free viewing (FV), we analyzed the numbers, amplitudes, and durations of saccades, as well as their directional patterns, especially the relative number of saccades into the non-seeing field. Sixteen healthy age-matched children, who did not undergo training, served as a comparison group. We also assessed the quality of life (QoL) by questionnaires for children. 

Results: The search times of patients decreased significantly during the training for all search tasks. This improvement persisted 6 weeks after the end of the training. Saccade amplitudes increased, the number of saccades decreased, and the relative number of saccades to the non-seeing side increased. Saccade durations did not change, indicating an improved search strategy. During free viewing, saccades were equally distributed to both sides. Patients reported improvements in QoL and activities of daily living. Performance in the healthy children did not change by simply repeating the visual search test.

Conclusions: Children with HH benefited from the visual search training. The maintained improvement at T3 and the improvement in the real-life search task suggest that the newly developed search strategy persists and can be applied to everyday life.  

 

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