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J Assoc Res Otolaryngol. 2012 Aug;13(4):517-25. doi: 10.1007/s10162-012-0330-7. Epub 2012 Apr 24.

The under-compensatory roll aVOR does not affect dynamic visual acuity.

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Department of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, 601 N. Caroline St, Baltimore, MD, 21287-0910, USA.


Rotations of the head evoke compensatory reflexive eye rotations in the orbit to stabilize images onto the fovea. In normal humans, the angular vestibulo-ocular reflex (aVOR) gain (eye/head velocity) changes depending on the head rotation plane. For pitch and yaw head rotations, the gain is near unity, but during roll head rotations, the aVOR gain is ∼ 0.7. The purpose of this study was to determine whether this physiological discrepancy affects dynamic visual acuity (DVA)--a functional measure of the aVOR that requires subjects to identify letters of varying acuities during head rotation. We used the scleral search coil technique to measure eye and head velocity during passive DVA testing in yaw, roll, and pitch head impulses in healthy controls and patients with unilateral vestibular hypofunction (UVH). For control subjects, the mean aVOR gain during roll impulses was significantly lower than the mean aVOR gain during yaw and pitch impulses; however, there was no difference in DVA between yaw, roll, or pitch. For subjects with UVH, only aVOR gain during head rotations toward the affected side (yaw) were asymmetric (ipsilesional, 0.32 ± 0.17, vs. contralesional, 0.95 ± 0.05), with no asymmetry during roll or pitch. Similarly, there was a large asymmetry for DVA only during yaw head rotations, with no asymmetry in roll or pitch. Interestingly, DVA during roll toward the affected ear was better than DVA during yaw toward the affected ear--even though the ipsilesional roll aVOR gain was 60 % lower. During roll, the axis of eye rotation remains nearly perpendicular to the fovea, resulting in minimal displacement between the fovea and fixation target image projected onto the back of the eye. For subjects with UVH, the DVA score during passive horizontal impulses is a better indicator of poor gaze stability than during passive roll or pitch.

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