Speed-accuracy of saccades, vergence and combined eye movements in children with vertigo

Exp Brain Res. 2004 Aug;157(3):286-95. doi: 10.1007/s00221-004-1842-0. Epub 2004 Mar 13.


Vergence abnormalities could lead to inappropriate vestibulo-ocular reflex (VOR), causing vertigo and imbalance (Brandt 1999). Indeed, a recent study by Anoh-Tanon et al. (2000) reported the existence of a population of children with symptoms of vertigo in the absence of vestibular dysfunction but with abnormal vergence findings in orthoptic tests. The purpose of this study was to examine in such children the accuracy, duration and mean velocity of vergence and saccades; additionally, for a few subjects, the effect of orthoptic vergence training on these parameters was also investigated. LEDs were used to stimulate saccades, pure vergence along the median plane and combined saccade-vergence movements. Movements from both eyes were recorded with a photoelectric device (Bouis). The results show that children with vertigo perform saccades as normal subjects of comparable age. In contrast, vergence, particularly convergence, shows abnormalities: poor accuracy, long duration and low speed. During combined movements, the well known reciprocal interaction between the saccade and the vergence is present only for saccades combined with divergence; for saccades combined with convergence such interaction is abnormal: the saccade is slowed down by the convergence but the convergence is not accelerated by the saccade. Orthoptic training improves significantly the accuracy of all eye movements; such improvement was significant for all types of eye movements except for divergence (pure and combined). Furthermore, convergence remains abnormal and the lack of acceleration by the saccade persists. These specific convergence deficits could be of both subcortical and cortical origin. Orthoptic training improves the accuracy presumably via visual attentional mechanisms, but cannot completely override deficits related to subcortical deficiencies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Age Factors
  • Brain / growth & development
  • Brain / physiopathology
  • Child
  • Convergence, Ocular / physiology*
  • Electrooculography
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Learning / physiology
  • Male
  • Neural Pathways / growth & development
  • Neural Pathways / physiopathology
  • Ocular Motility Disorders / complications
  • Ocular Motility Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Ocular Motility Disorders / rehabilitation
  • Orthoptics
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Recovery of Function / physiology
  • Reflex, Vestibulo-Ocular / physiology*
  • Saccades / physiology*
  • Vertigo / complications
  • Vertigo / physiopathology*