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Alex A. Black, Joanne M. Wood, Silvie Hoang, Eloise Thomas, Ann L. Webber; Impact of Amblyopia on Visual Attention and Visual Search in Children. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2021;62(4):15. https://doi.org/10.1167/iovs.62.4.15.
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The purpose of this study was to compare binocular visual attention, visual processing speeds, and visuo-cognitive search ability in children with and without amblyopia and investigate the association of visual acuity and binocular function with these measures.
Participants included 20 children with amblyopia (mean age = 9.0 ± 1.2 years; 15 anisometropic and 5 strabismic) and 20 children with normal vision development (9.5 ± 1.7 years). Vision assessment included visual acuity (monocular and binocular) and binocular function (Worth 4 Dot and Randot Preschool Stereotest). Visual attention and processing speeds were assessed using the three subtests of the Useful Field of View (UFOV; central processing, divided attention, and selective attention). Visuo-cognitive search was measured using static and dynamic presentations of the Trail Making Tests (TMTs), parts A and B, with increasing levels of executive function demand. All children performed these tasks binocularly.
Children with amblyopia demonstrated slower visual processing times on the UFOV (P = 0.04), and slower completion times on the TMT search tests (P = 0.014), compared to controls. TMT performance for children with amblyopia was also more negatively impacted with increasing executive function demands on the TMT part B, compared to controls (P = 0.005). Binocular visual acuity was associated with TMT (P = 0.006) and UFOV (P = 0.07) performance, but none of the other visual function measures were related to performance on these tasks.
Children with amblyopia exhibit deficits in higher-order visual processing skills, including visual attention and visual search, particularly with increasing executive function demands. These findings have implications for understanding the impact of amblyopia on everyday function in children.
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