The purpose of this study was to determine whether persons with advanced vision impairment, when walking an unfamiliar route, visually sample the environment in a different manner than do persons with normal vision.
Direction of gaze was measured in six persons with retinitis pigmentosa (RP) and in three persons with normal vision as they walked an unfamiliar, obstacle-free route while viewing the environment in a head-mounted display.
Persons with RP fixated over a larger area in the environment and at different features than did persons with normal vision. Persons with normal vision directed their gaze primarily ahead or at the goal, whereas persons with RP directed their gaze at objects on the walls, downward, or at the layout (i.e., edge-lines or boundaries between walls). The results also showed a significant negative correlation between the horizontal visual field extent of the RP subjects and the proportion of downward-directed fixations.
Persons with advanced vision impairment as a result of RP visually sample the environment in a manner different from persons with normal vision.
The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Wilmer Eye Institute, Baltimore, Maryland
Kathleen A. Turano
Lions Vision Center
550 N. Broadway, 6th floor
Baltimore, Maryland 21205
Received February 28, 2001;
revision received May 14, 2001.