Gender differences in early accommodation and vergence development
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To link to this item DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-1313.2008.00547.x
A remote haploscopic photorefractor was used to assess objective binocular vergence and accommodation responses in 157 full-term healthy infants aged 1-6 months while fixating a brightly coloured target moving between fixation distances at 2, 1, 0.5 and 0.33 m. Vergence and accommodation response gain matured rapidly from 'flat' neonatal responses at an intercept of approximately 2 dioptres (D) for accommodation and 2.5 metre angles(MA) for vergence, reaching adult-like values at 4 months. Vergence gain was marginally higher in females (p = 0.064), but accommodation gain (p = 0.034) was higher and accommodative intercept closer to zero (p = 0.004) in males in the first 3 months as they relaxed accommodation more appropriately for distant targets. More females showed flat accommodation responses (p = 0.029). More males behaved hypermetropically in the first two months of life, but when these hypermetropic infants were excluded from the analysis, the gender difference remained. Gender differences disappeared after three months. Data showed variable responses and infants could behave appropriately and simultaneously on both, neither or only one measure at all ages. If accommodation was appropriate (gain between 0.7 and 1.3; r(2) > 0.7) but vergence was not, males over- and under-converged equally, while the females who accommodated appropriately were more likely to overconverge (p = 0.008). The apparent earlier maturity of the male accommodative responses may be due to refractive error differences but could also reflect gender-specific male preference for blur cues while females show earlier preference for disparity, which may underpin the earlier emerging, disparity dependent, stereopsis and full vergence found in females in other studies.