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Kimberly Meier, Deborah Giaschi; Unilateral Amblyopia Affects Two Eyes: Fellow Eye Deficits in Amblyopia. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2017;58(3):1779-1800. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/iovs.16-20964.
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Unilateral amblyopia is a visual disorder that arises after selective disruption of visual input to one eye during critical periods of development. In the clinic, amblyopia is understood as poor visual acuity in an eye that was deprived of pattern vision early in life. By its nature, however, amblyopia has an adverse effect on the development of a binocular visual system and the interactions between signals from two eyes. Visual functions aside from visual acuity are impacted, and many studies have indicated compromised sensitivity in the fellow eye even though it demonstrates normal visual acuity. While these fellow eye deficits have been noted, no overarching theory has been proposed to describe why and under what conditions the fellow eye is impacted by amblyopia. Here, we consider four explanations that may account for decreased fellow eye sensitivity: the fellow eye is adversely impacted by treatment for amblyopia; the maturation of the fellow eye is delayed by amblyopia; fellow eye sensitivity is impacted for visual functions that rely on binocular cortex; and fellow eye deficits reflect an adaptive mechanism that works to equalize the sensitivity of the two eyes. To evaluate these ideas, we describe five visual functions that are commonly reported to be deficient in the amblyopic eye (hyperacuity, contrast sensitivity, spatial integration, global motion, and motion-defined form), and unify the current evidence for fellow eye deficits. Further research targeted at exploring fellow eye deficits in amblyopia will provide us with a broader understanding of normal visual development and how amblyopia impacts the developing visual system.
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