Clinical studies have shown that positive fusional vergence (PFV) can be trained through a program of orthoptic exercises. Models of accommodation and vergence predict that training PFV would require a reduction in the convergence accommodation (CA) cross-link. Recent investigations have found that the CA/C ratio is not changed in a clinical population after orthoptics. We hypothesized that such orthoptic programs may instead act to reduce CA through changes in the relationship between fast and slow vergence components.
Eleven visually normal subjects were tested. Phoria adaptation to a 12-Δ base-out (BO) wedge prism and the resulting CA responses were monitored every 3 min for 15 min to a DoG target at 0.4 m. These measures were repeated after 2 weeks of orthoptics. Phorias, stimulus accommodative convergence (AC)/A and CA/C ratios, and PFV amplitudes at near were also determined. Before the orthoptics program, these measures were repeated under “adapted” conditions.
Phoria adaptation following prolonged viewing through the 12-Δ BO wedge prism was associated with a concomitant reduction in the CA. These changes were asymptotic over time with 95% of the change occurring within the first 3 to 6 min. After 2 week of orthoptics, the rates and magnitudes of both phoria adaptation and CA reduction increased significantly (p < 0.01). PFV at 40-cm limits showed increases with orthoptics and under vergence adaptation. CA/C and AC/A ratios were unchanged after orthoptics, but the former was reduced, and the latter increased under the vergence adapted condition.
Orthoptics acts to change the time constant and magnitude of vergence adaptation to BO prisms, which leads to a concomitant reduction of CA over a similar time course. This process appears to underlie the increase in positive fusion limits. Although reductions in CA/C ratio occur under the vergence adapted state, this ratio is not directly changed with orthoptics.