Do dissociated or associated phoria predict the comfortable prism?

Graefes Arch Clin Exp Ophthalmol. 2008 May;246(5):631-9. doi: 10.1007/s00417-008-0798-3. Epub 2008 Apr 1.


Background: Dissociated and associated phoria are measures of latent strabismus under artificial viewing conditions. We examined to what extent dissociated and associated phoria predict the "comfortable prism", i.e. the prism that appears most comfortable under natural viewing conditions.

Methods: For associated phoria, a configuration resembling the Mallett test was employed: both eyes were presented with a fixation cross, surrounded by fusionable objects. Nonius lines served as monocular markers. For dissociated phoria, the left eye was presented with all the Mallett elements, while only a white spot was presented to the right eye. To determine the comfortable prism, all the Mallett elements, including the Nonius lines, were shown to both eyes. In each of the three tests, the observer had to adjust a pair of counterrotating prisms. To avoid any (possibly prejudiced) influence of the experimenter, the prismatic power was recorded with a potentiometer. Twenty non-strabismic subjects with a visual acuity of >or=1.0 in each eye were examined.

Results: The range of the intertrial mean was for dissociated phoria from +9.3 eso to -5.9 cm/m exo, for associated phoria from +11.2 eso to -3.3 cm/m exo, and for the comfortable prism from +4.8 eso to -4.1 cm/m exo (cm/m = prism dioptre). In most observers, the phoria parameters differed greatly from the comfortable prism. On average, the phoria values were shifted about 2 cm/m towards the eso direction in relation to the comfortable prism (associated phoria not less than dissociated phoria).

Conclusions: The deviation of both, dissociated and associated phoria, from the comfortable prism suggests that the abnormal viewing conditions under which the phoria parameters are determined induce artefacts. Accordingly, the findings cast doubt on current textbook recommendations to use dissociated or associated phoria as a basis for therapeutic prisms. Rather, patients should be allowed to determine their comfortable prism under natural viewing conditions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Convergence, Ocular / physiology
  • Eyeglasses*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Prosthesis Fitting
  • Strabismus / diagnosis*
  • Vision Disorders / physiopathology
  • Vision Disorders / rehabilitation*
  • Vision Disparity / physiology*
  • Vision Tests
  • Vision, Binocular / physiology*