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Fast eye movements help glaucoma patients recognize faces

A preliminary study performed in the United Kingdom has shown that eye movements improve face recognition ability in patients with glaucoma. Fiona C. Glen, MA, a PhD researcher at the City University London, led the current investigation. In a prior study, Glen and colleagues demonstrated that glaucoma patients have greater difficulty recognizing faces compared to healthy individuals. This finding, Glen argued, will help glaucoma patients understand the day-to-day effects of their vision loss, as it can be difficult for patients to grasp the practical implications of visual field results and numerical evaluations that are used to evaluate glaucoma progression. The focus of the current study was to observe if glaucoma patients employ certain strategies, specifically eye movements, to improve their facial recognition ability. The researchers found that among patients with glaucoma, there was a significant relationship between number of fast eye movements and correctly identified faces, while no such relationship was found among healthy individuals. Looking ahead, it may be interesting to explore whether patients are consciously using eye movements to improve their vision, or whether this tactic is an unconscious adaptation.*

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