Saccades during smooth pursuit can help bring the fovea on target, particularly in cases of low pursuit gain. Individuals with macular degeneration often suffer damage to the central retina including the fovea, which impacts oculomotor function such as fixation, saccadic and smooth pursuit eye movements. We hypothesized that these oculomotor changes in macular degeneration (MD) would make saccades less appropriately directed (even if more numerous). To investigate saccades during pursuit in MD, we conducted a quantitative analysis of smooth pursuit eye movement data from a prior study, Vision Research 141 (2017) 181–190. Here we examined saccade frequency, magnitude, and direction across viewing conditions for MD and control participants during pursuit of a target moving in a modified step-ramp paradigm. Individuals with MD had more variability in saccade directions that included directions orthogonal to the target trajectory. PRL eccentricity significantly correlated with increases in saccades in non-target directions during smooth pursuit. These results suggest that a large number of saccades during pursuit in MD participants are unlikely to be catch-up saccades that serve to keep the eye on the target.
Publication Type: Journal Article
Publication: Vision Research, Volume 200, p.108102 (2022)