School of Health Sciences


Master of Science in Human Performance (MS)


Jared Hornsby


Aviation, Hypoxia, Eye-Tracking, Saccade, Altitude


Aviation | Physiology


Hypoxia occurs when the body's tissues are unable to obtain adequate oxygen supply and is the primary environmental factor present when pilots are exposed to increasing altitude levels. Hypoxia leads to impaired vision, cognition, and motor control function, which can negatively affect performance and become deadly if a pilot becomes incapacitated. Thus, objective identification of early-onset hypoxia is critical to increase the time of useful consciousness and prevent physiological episodes. Of the few studies utilizing eye-tracking, there is disagreement and mixed results concerning saccadic eye metrics as a means to measure and detect hypoxia. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to investigate saccadic velocity changes driven by acute normobaric hypoxia. Using a noninvasive infrared-based eye-tracking device, we recorded saccadic average peak velocity during flight tasks at simulated altitudes of 0 ft, 12,500 ft, and 19,000 ft. No changes were observed in saccadic average peak velocity among different altitude exposures. As time on task increased, saccadic average peak velocity decreased, suggesting that eye metrics can serve as an indicator of mental fatigue.