Purpose: A novel Preferential Looking (PL) procedure that uses quantitative analysis of visual scanning parameters is presented.
Methods: Nine adult subjects were presented with a set of 14 visual stimuli (stimuli included 3 uniform grey fields and 1 field with black and white square wave gratings) spanning the range of spatial frequencies from 1.5 cycles/degree to 35.1 cycles/degree (1.3 logMAR to -0.07 logMAR). A remote gaze-tracking system was used to monitor the subject's eye movements and the relative fixation time (RFT) on the grating target. Subsequently, a four alternative forced-choice psychophysical test (4AFC) was performed with the same visual stimuli.
Results: For visual stimuli for which the gratings' positions in the 4AFC test were identified correctly in 100% of the trials ("reliably discriminated"), the mean RFT was 72.5% ± 9.0%. For stimuli for which the spatial frequencies were higher than the subject's psychophysically determined VA threshold ("non-discriminated"), the mean RFT was 25.3% ± 8.5%. Using three repeated trials at each spatial frequency and a VA detector that is based on the conditional probability density functions of the RFT, the average VA was underestimated by 0.06 logMAR (range: 0.00 logMAR to 0.20 logMAR).
Conclusions: In adults, automated quantitative analysis of visual scanning patterns can be used to estimate objectively and rapidly (210 seconds) VA with a mean error of 0.06 logMAR. The novel approach may form the basis for PL procedures that are more objective and accurate than the traditional clinical PL procedures.