New research points to source of peripheral vision problems
Psychology professor Peter J. Bex and colleagues have reached a new understanding of why our peripheral vision is poor. The discovery could lead to treatments for eye diseases such as age-related macular degeneration.
You’re hustling across Huntington Avenue, eyes on the Marino Center, as the “walk” sign ticks down seconds: Seven, six, five…. Suddenly bike brakes screech to your right. Yikes! Why didn’t you see that cyclist coming with your peripheral vision?
Researchers in the lab of Northeastern psychology professor Peter J. Bex may now have the answer—one that may lead to relief for those with age-related macular degeneration, or AMD, an eye disorder that destroys central vision: the sharp, straight-ahead vision that enables us to read, drive, and decipher faces. AMD could affect close to 3 million people by 2020, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
The problem with peripheral vision—which people with AMD particularly rely on as their central vision fails—is that it’s notoriously poor because it’s subject to “crowding,” or interference from surrounding “visual clutter,” says William J. Harrison, co-author of the study and a former Northeastern postdoctoral fellow. “You know something’s there, but you can’t identify what it is.”
Bex and Harrison’s breakthrough paper, published last month in the journal Current Biology, uses computational modeling of subjects’ perceptions of images to reveal why that visual befuddlement occurs, including the brain mechanism driving it. That knowledge could pave the way for treatments to circumvent crowding.
An evolutionary compromise
Our vision operates on a gradient: It has high resolution in the center and progressively coarser resolution in the periphery. The diminishment is an evolutionary necessity. “If we were to have the same resolution that we have in the center of our vision across our whole visual field, we’d need a brain and an optic nerve that were at least 10 times larger than they currently are,” says Bex, who specializes in basic and clinical visual science………
Read more: http://www.northeastern.edu/news/2016/01/new-research-points-to-source-of-peripheral-vision-problems/
Source: News @ Northeastern