Purpose: The authors examined linear acuity and contrast sensitivity in the "good" (fellow) eye of children treated for unilateral congenital cataract to determine (1) whether there were subtle deficits like those described for the good eye of patients with strabismic amblyopia and (2) whether any deficits were related to the degree to which the good eye had been patched.
Methods: The authors tested patients treated for unilateral congenital cataract who had a well-documented history of patching. The good eye was physically normal with minimal refractive error. The measures were linear acuity at far (n = 15) and contrast sensitivity (n = 9).
Results: Compared with age-matched control subjects, the good eyes of patients had subtle deficits in linear acuity and in contrast sensitivity at high spatial frequencies. These deficits occurred even in eyes that had received minimal patching, and their severity was not related systematically to the duration of patching, which varied widely across the group.
Conclusion: The visual sensitivity of the good eye of children treated for unilateral congenital cataract is, on average, slightly reduced, even in cases of minimal patching. Consequently, any deficits discovered after aggressive patching may not have been caused by occlusion amblyopia.