Role of Ocular Convergence in the Romberg Quotient

Gait Posture. 2008 Apr;27(3):493-500. doi: 10.1016/j.gaitpost.2007.06.003. Epub 2007 Jul 31.


The Romberg test generally shows that postural stability is better with eyes open than eyes closed; the Romberg quotient (RQ) is generally 2.5. This study examines the possible role of vergence angle on the RQ. Eighteen young (25.3+/-2.7 years) and 17 old (61.6+/-4.4 years) subjects were required to fixate a target at 40 cm or at 200 cm inducing different vergence angle (i.e. 8.6 degrees and 1.7 degrees, respectively) either with eyes open or closed. Postural stability of subjects was measured with force platform (TechnoConcept). The RQ was about 2 at 40 cm but dropped to 1 at 200 cm. In a second experiment, 15 subjects (26.7+/-5.5 years) run the Romberg test with eye movement measures (Chronos). Subjects were required to fixate a target placed at 20 cm, 40 cm, 90 cm, 200 cm or 350 cm either in light or in dark. The RQ at 20 cm and 40 cm was close to 2 and dropped to 1 at 90 cm and beyond. In parallel, the vergence angle at 20 cm and 40 cm changed significantly between light and dark, while at 90 cm and beyond it was stable (about 2 degrees both in light and dark). The distance had a significant effect on the co-variance between the RQ based on the anterior-posterior sway, and the change of vergence angle. We suggest different ways of control of posture according to the viewing distance: at near distance and in the light, the CNS uses vision coupled with oculo-motor convergence signals (efferent and afferent) leading to high RQ; at intermediate and far distances, it would use mostly internal signals (vestibular, proprioceptive, somatosensory), and similarly in the light and in the dark.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Convergence, Ocular / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neurologic Examination / methods*
  • Postural Balance / physiology*