Purpose: The present treatments for amblyopia are predominantly monocular aiming to improve the vision in the amblyopic eye through either patching of the fellow fixing eye or visual training of the amblyopic eye. This approach is problematic, not least of which because it rarely results in establishment of binocular function. Recently it has shown that amblyopes possess binocular cortical mechanisms for both threshold and suprathreshold stimuli.
Methods: We outline a novel procedure for measuring the extent to which the fixing eye suppresses the fellow amblyopic eye, rendering what is a structurally binocular system, functionally monocular.
Results: Here we show that prolonged periods of viewing (under the artificial conditions of stimuli of different contrast in each eye) during which information from the two eyes is combined leads to a strengthening of binocular vision in strabismic amblyopes and eventual combination of binocular information under natural viewing conditions (stimuli of the same contrast in each eye). Concomitant improvement in monocular acuity of the amblyopic eye occurs with this reduction in suppression and strengthening of binocular fusion. Furthermore, in a majority of patients tested, stereoscopic function is established.
Conclusions: This provides the basis for a new treatment of amblyopia, one that is purely binocular and aimed at reducing suppression as a first step.