Predicting Stereopsis in Macular Degeneration

Publication Type: Journal Article
Publication: Journal of Neuroscience (0)


Each of our eyes sees a slightly different view of the physical world. Disparity is the small difference in position of features in the retinal images; stereopsis is the percept of depth from disparity. A distance between corresponding features in the reti- nal images of the two eyes smaller than the upper disparity limityields a percept of depth; distances greater than this limit cause the two unfused monocular features to appear flattened into the fixation plane. This behavioral disparity limit is con- sistent with neurophysiological estimates of the largest disparity scale in primate, allowing us to relate physiological limits on plausible binocular interactions to separation between retinal locations. Here we test the hypothesis that this upper disparity limit predicts the presence of coarse stereopsis in humans with macular degeneration (MD), which affects the central retina but typically spares the periphery. The pattern of vision loss can be highly asymmetric, such that an intact location in one eye has a corresponding point in the other eye that lies within affected retina. Nevertheless, some individuals with MD have coarse stereopsis that is useful for eye-hand coordination. Our results show that individuals with MD (n=25, male and female) have coarse stereopsis when the distance between intact retinal locations is less than the behavioral and physiological upper disparity limit at the corresponding eccentricity. Furthermore, for those without stereopsis, we can predict whether they can achieve stereopsis by using alternate retinal loci at further eccentricities whose separation is below the upper dispar- ity limit.