Because previous studies have reported conflicting evidence, we examined a possible difference in stereoacuity between distance and near, in particular using a random-dot display. We compared distance and near stereoacuities using identical presentation formats at the two distances.
Twelve young adults with low, stable refractive errors and apparently normal binocular vision participated. Stereoacuity was determined with a Mentor B-VAT II using Random Dot E (BVRDE) and Contour Circles (BVC) stereograms presented on a standard monitor (25 × 19.3 cm) at 518 cm (distance-habitual) and a small monitor (2.0 × 1.4 cm) at 40 cm (near-habitual). To examine whether accommodation-convergence influenced stereoacuity, testing at 40 cm was repeated with the addition of +2.50 DS lenses and base-in prisms (near-compensated) that created the same accommodation and convergence demands as for distance-habitual viewing.
The two stereotests produced similar findings. Stereoacuity was not significantly different for distance-habitual and near-habitual viewing of the BVRDE (p = 0.43) and BVC (p = 0.79) stereotests. Near-compensated stereoacuity was worse than near-habitual (BVRDE, p = 0.005; BVC, p = 0.004) and distance-habitual (BVRDE, p = 0.05; BVC, p = 0.003) for both stereotests. Because near stereoacuity with yoked prisms (control condition) was the same as without prism (near-habitual), prism-induced optical distortions cannot account for the difference.
Stereoacuity was not different at distance and near under normal viewing conditions. The conflict between subject knowledge of target proximity and the optically-induced relaxation of accommodation and convergence, or an inaccurate accommodative-convergence response, might have caused poor near-compensated stereoacuity.