Some aspects of visual discomfort
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Visual discomfort is the adverse sensations, such as headaches and eyestrain, encountered on viewing certain stimuli. These sensations can arise under certain viewing conditions, such as stereoscopic viewing and prolonged reading of text patterns. Also, discomfort can occur as a result of viewing stimuli with certain spatial properties, including stripes and filtered noise patterns of particular spatial frequency. This thesis is an exploration of the stimulus properties causing discomfort, within the framework of two theoretical explanations. Both of the explanations relate to the stimuli being difficult for the visual system to process. The first is concerned with discomfort being the result of inefficient neural processing. Neural activity requires energy to process information, and stimuli that demand a lot of energy to be processed might be uncomfortable. The second explanation revolves around uncomfortable stimuli not being effective in driving the accommodative (focussing) response. Accommodation relies on the stimulus as a cue to drive the response effectively - an uninformative cue might result in discomfort from an uncertain accommodative response. The following research investigates both these possibilities using a combination of psychophysical experimentation, questionnaire-based surveys on non-clinical populations, and computational modelling. The implications of the work for clinical populations are also discussed.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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