INTRODUCTION: The amount of visual disruption experienced by individuals exposed to a visible laser source at levels, which are below that, which will damage the cornea or retina will depend on laser exposure parameters and task demands. Previous work has evaluated the effects of wavelength, duration, ambient light level, and target variables. One factor that has not received attention is monocular vs. binocular exposure. Whether the exposure is monocular or binocular may alter pupil dynamics, eyelid closure, and ultimately affect visual performance. METHODS: In this study 10 males and females were exposed to 0.1 and 3.0 sec laser flashes while tracking a
dynamic target at 0.28 deg/sec through a scope that was capable of selecting binocular or monocular viewing. Bright (430 nits) and dawn/dusk (4.3 nits) ambient light conditions were simulated using ND filters. A collimated 514.5 nm argon laser beam produced corneal radiant exposures of 0.16 and 1.0 mJ/cm2 for the 0.1 and 3.0 sec
conditions respectively. For each flash trial total time off target and maximum absolute error scores were calculated. Eye response (changes in pupil diameter) was assessed by evaluation of videotape from an IR eye camera. Tracking error scores (total time off target) were calculated for each flash trial. RESULTS: Analysis of variance results for the total time off target scores found all three main factors (light level, exposure duration, and monocular/binocular
to be significant. Earlier studies have previously shown dawn/dusk flash exposures be more disruptive than bright light trials. Also three sec exposures were more disruptive than one sec exposures. Finally, monocular exposures produced significantly higher error scores than did binocular exposures. For the pupil diameters the post-flash diameters were significantly smaller that the pre-flash diameters and monocular diameters larger that binocular pupil
sizes. SUMMARY: The Total Time Off Target error scores for the monocular viewing condition were significantly higher than the binocular viewing condition supporting bilateral summation contributions to binocular tracking. Pupil recovery diameters were approximately 84% of baseline for monocular viewing regardless of
ambient light level and flash duration. Binocular viewing conditions yielded an average 75% pupil recovery. Continuing analysis of the pupil data precludes us from making a more definitive statement.