Effect of ethanol on dynamic visual acuity during vertical body oscillation in healthy volunteers
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Visual orientation is the most important sensory input during locomotion (e.g. walking, driving a car, riding a bicycle). We investigated dynamic visual acuity (DVA) during vertical body-oscillations (amplitude 5 cm; frequency 1.5 Hz) in 12 healthy subjects before and twice after ethanol consumption. During oscillation, vertical eye movements were recorded under two test conditions: with eyes closed (EC) and during DVA testing. A significant increase in vertical eye-amplitude after ethanol ingestion occurred only during EC tests, as a possible sign of vestibular hyperreaction. During vestibular stimulation alone (EC), ethanol did not affect the phase shift between stimulus and eye movements. However, when the subjects were given an additional visual stimulus (DVA), the post-alcohol phase shift rose significantly. Surprisingly, the post-alcohol phase shift values for the two test conditions showed no significant differences. After ethanol ingestion we found no changes in static visual acuity but a significant loss of DVA. Volunteers with a change of DVA threshold (DVAT) showed significantly (P = 0.004) higher post-alcoholic changes in the phase shift. In summary, low doses of ethanol disturbed the visually guided oculomotor response during fixation of an earth-fixed target while the observer was subject to linear vertical acceleration. This effect led to an increasing delay between the beginning of body and eye movements. The consequence was an increasing phase shift and thus a decrease in DVA during whole-body oscillation which was comparable to movements during human locomotion.
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