Critical periods and amblyopia

Arch Ophthalmol. 1998 Apr;116(4):502-5. doi: 10.1001/archopht.116.4.502.


During the past 20 years, basic science has shown that there are different critical periods for different visual functions during the development of the visual system. Visual functions processed at higher anatomical levels within the system have a later critical period than functions processed at lower levels. This general principle suggests that treatments for amblyopia should be followed in a logical sequence, with treatment for each visual function to be started before its critical period is over. However, critical periods for some visual functions, such as stereopsis, are not yet fully determined, and the optimal treatment is, therefore, unknown. This article summarizes the current extent of our knowledge and points to the gaps that need to be filled.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Amblyopia / etiology
  • Amblyopia / physiopathology*
  • Animals
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Critical Period, Psychological
  • Depth Perception / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Visual Acuity / physiology*
  • Visual Cortex / physiology