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Mechanisms of recovery of visual function in adult amblyopia through a tailored action video game

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Amblyopia is a deficit in vision that arises from abnormal visual experience early in life. It was long thought to develop into a permanent deficit, unless properly treated before the end of the sensitive period for visual recovery. However, a number of studies now suggest that adults with long-standing amblyopia may at least partially recover visual acuity and stereopsis following perceptual training. Eliminating or reducing interocular suppression has been hypothesized to be at the root of these changes. Here we show that playing a novel dichoptic video game indeed results in reduced suppression, improved visual acuity and, in some cases, improved stereopsis. Our relatively large cohort of adults with amblyopia, allowed us, for the first time, to assess the link between visual function recovery and reduction in suppression. Surprisingly, no significant correlation was found between decreased suppression and improved visual function. This finding challenges the prevailing view and suggests that while dichoptic training improves visual acuity and stereopsis in adult amblyopia, reduced suppression is unlikely to be at the root of visual recovery. These results are discussed in the context of their implication on recovery of amblyopia in adults.

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