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PLoS By Category | Recent PLoS Articles
Neurological Disorders - Neuroscience - Ophthalmology - Pediatrics and Child Health - Physiology - Surgery

A Limited Role for Suppression in the Central Field of Individuals with Strabismic Amblyopia
Published: Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Author: Brendan T. Barrett et al.

by Brendan T. Barrett, Gurvinder K. Panesar, Andrew J. Scally, Ian E. Pacey

Background

Although their eyes are pointing in different directions, people with long-standing strabismic amblyopia typically do not experience double-vision or indeed any visual symptoms arising from their condition. It is generally believed that the phenomenon of suppression plays a major role in dealing with the consequences of amblyopia and strabismus, by preventing images from the weaker/deviating eye from reaching conscious awareness. Suppression is thus a highly sophisticated coping mechanism. Although suppression has been studied for over 100 years the literature is equivocal in relation to the extent of the retina that is suppressed, though the method used to investigate suppression is crucial to the outcome. There is growing evidence that some measurement methods lead to artefactual claims that suppression exists when it does not.

Methodology/Results

Here we present the results of an experiment conducted with a new method to examine the prevalence, depth and extent of suppression in ten individuals with strabismic amblyopia. Seven subjects (70%) showed no evidence whatsoever for suppression and in the three individuals who did (30%), the depth and extent of suppression was small.

Conclusions

Suppression may play a much smaller role in dealing with the negative consequences of strabismic amblyopia than previously thought. Whereas recent claims of this nature have been made only in those with micro-strabismus our results show extremely limited evidence for suppression across the central visual field in strabismic amblyopes more generally. Instead of suppressing the image from the weaker/deviating eye, we suggest the visual system of individuals with strabismic amblyopia may act to maximise the possibilities for binocular co-operation. This is consistent with recent evidence from strabismic and amblyopic individuals that their binocular mechanisms are intact, and that, just as in visual normals, performance with two eyes is better than with the better eye alone in these individuals.

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