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Xiang-Yun Liu, Yu-Wei Zhang, Feng Gao, Fei Chen, Jun-Yun Zhang; Dichoptic Perceptual Training in Children With Amblyopia With or Without Patching History. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2021;62(6):4. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/iovs.62.6.4.
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Dichoptic training is becoming a popular tool in amblyopia treatment. Here we investigated the effects of dichoptic demasking training in children with amblyopia who never received patching treatment (NPT group) or were no longer responsive to patching (PT group).
Fourteen NPT and thirteen PT amblyopes (6–16.5 years; 24 anisometropic, two strabismus, and one mixed) received dichoptic demasking training for 17 to 22 sessions. They used the amblyopic eye (AE) to practice contrast discrimination between a pair of Gabors that were dichoptically masked by a band-filtered noise pattern simultaneously presented in the fellow eye (FE). Dichoptic learning was quantified by the increase of maximal tolerable noise contrast (TNC) for AE contrast discrimination. Computerized visual acuities and contrast sensitivity functions for both eyes and the Randot stereoacuity were measured before and after training.
Training improved maximal TNC by six to eight times in both groups, along with a boost of AE acuities by 0.15 logMAR (P < 0.001) in the NPT group and 0.06 logMAR (P < 0.001) in the PT group. This visual acuity improvement was significantly dependent on the pretraining acuity. Stereoacuity was significantly improved by 41.6% (P = 0.002) in the NPT group and 64.2% (P < 0.001) in the PT group. The stereoacuity gain was correlated to the pretraining interocular acuity difference (r = −0.49, P = 0.010), but not to the interocular acuity difference change (r = −0.28, P = 0.15). Training improved AE contrast sensitivity in the NPT group (P = 0.009) but not the PT group (P = 0.76). Moreover, the learning effects in 12 retested observers were retained for 10 to 24 months.
Dichoptic training can improve, and sometimes even restore, the stereoacuity of amblyopic children, especially those with mild amblyopia (amblyopic VA ≦0.28 logMAR). The dissociation of stereoacuity gain and the interocular acuity difference change suggests that the stereoacuity gain may not result from a reduced interocular suppression in most amblyopes. Rather, the amblyopes may have learned to attend to, or readout, the stimulus information to improve stereopsis.
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