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Perception via the Deviated Eye in Strabismus

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Misalignment of the eyes can lead to double vision and visual confusion. However, these sensations are rare when strabismus is acquired early in life, because the extra image is suppressed. To explore the mechanism of perceptual suppression in strabismus, the visual fields were mapped binocularly in 14 human subjects with exotropia. Subjects wore red/blue filter glasses to permit dichoptic stimulation while fixating a central target on a tangent screen. A purple stimulus was flashed at a peripheral location; its reported color ("red" or "blue") revealed which eye's image was perceived at that locus. The maps showed a vertical border between the center of gaze for each eye, splitting the visual field into two separate regions. In each region, perception was mediated by only one eye, with suppression of the other eye. Unexpectedly, stimuli falling on the fovea of the deviated eye were seen in all subjects. However, they were perceived in a location shifted by the angle of ocular deviation. This plasticity in the coding of visual direction allows accurate localization of objects everywhere in the visual scene, despite the presence of strabismus.

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