Motion perception deficits in children with amblyopia: a functional MRI investigation

Amblyopia – commonly known as “”lazy eye”” – is a developmental disorder that causes poor vision in one eye compared to the other eye. Amblyopia can arise from an inward or outward turn of the weaker eye. This prevents both eyes from working together to form one image and results in double vision. It can also arise when one eye has much better focus than the other eye. In both cases, as the brain matures it will begin to ignore the image coming from the weaker eye, eventually causing vision in that eye to deteriorate. Regardless of how amblyopia arises, the most common treatment is to place an eye patch over the good eye. This forces the maturing brain to start using the weaker eye, so that vision in this eye will “”catch up”” to the vision of the good eye. This form of treatment has been very effective in treating some cases of amblyopia, but not other cases. Currently, eye care professionals primarily use letter charts to assess how the ability to process form is affected in amblyopia. Research over the years has found that in addition to abnormalities in processing form, there are also abnormalities in motion processing. Typically, eye care professionals do not assessmotion perception, so any abnormalities in motion processing that may develop currently do not get treated. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), John Secen is looking at differences in brain activity between children with and without amblyopia as they perform a motion processing task. This research will improve upon the current understanding of the neural basis behind motion-processing deficits in amblyopia, and hopefully, this knowledge could lead to the development of new screening techniques so that these abnormalities in motion processing can be detected and treated.