Quantitative Characterization of Smooth Pursuit Eye Movements in School-Age Children Using a Child-Friendly Setup

Valldeflors Vinuela-navarro, Jonathan T. Erichsen, Cathy Williams, J. Margaret Woodhouse

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: It could be argued that current studies investigating smooth pursuit development in children do not provide an optimal measure of smooth pursuit characteristics, given that a significant number have failed to adjust their setup and procedures to the child population. This study aimed to characterize smooth pursuit in children using child-friendly stimuli and procedures. Methods: Eye movements were recorded in 169 children (4–11 years) and 10 adults, while a customized, animated stimulus was presented moving horizontally and vertically at 6°/s and 12°/s. Eye movement recordings from 43 children with delayed reading, two with nystagmus, two with strabismus, and two with unsuccessful calibration were excluded from the analysis. Velocity gain, proportion of smooth pursuit, and the number and amplitude of saccades during smooth pursuit were calculated for the remaining participants. Median and quartiles were calculated for each age group and pursuit condition. ANOVA was used to investigate the effect of age on smooth pursuit parameters. Results: Differences across ages were found in velocity gain (6°/s P < 0.01; 12°/s P < 0.05), as well as the number (12°/s P < 0.05) and amplitude of saccades (12°/s P < 0.05), for horizontal smooth pursuit. Post hoc tests showed that these parameters were different between children aged 7 or younger and adults. No significant differences were found across ages in any smooth pursuit parameter for the vertical direction (P > 0.05). Conclusions: Using child-friendly methods, children over the age of 7 to 8 years demonstrated adultlike smooth pursuit. Translational Relevance: Child-friendly procedures are critical for appropriately characterizing smooth pursuit eye movements in children.
Original languageEnglish
Article number8
JournalTranslational Vision Science & Technology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 11 Sept 2019

Bibliographical note

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


  • Child-friendly
  • Development
  • Gain
  • Smooth pursuit


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