Drilling into the functional significance of stereopsis: the impact of stereoscopic information on surgical performance
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionOphthalmic & physiological optics. 2017, 37 (4), 498-506. 10.1111/opo.12393
Purpose: One suggested advantage of human binocular vision is the facilitation of sophisticated motor control behaviours via stereopsis – but little empirical evidence exists to support this suggestion. We examined the functional significance of stereopsis by exploring whether stereopsis is used to perform a highly skilled real-world motor task essential for the occupational practice of dentistry. Methods: We used a high fidelity virtual reality simulator to study how dentists’ performance is affected by the removal of horizontal retinal image disparities under direct and indirect (mirror) observation. Thirteen qualified dentists performed a total of four different dental tasks under non-stereoscopic and stereoscopic vision conditions, with two levels of task complexity (direct and indirect observation) using a virtual reality dental simulator. Results: Depth related errors were significantly higher under non-stereoscopic viewing but lateral errors did not differ between conditions. Indirect observation led to participants drilling less of the target area compared to direct viewing, but this did not interact with the stereopsis manipulation. Conclusions: The data confirm that dental practitioners use stereopsis and its presence results in improved dental performance. It remains to be determined whether individuals with stereo-deficits can compensate adequately. Nevertheless, these findings suggest an important role for stereopsis within at least one occupation and justify the design of simulators with 3D displays.