What Is Amblyopia?

  • Nigel W. Daw
Part of the Perspectives in Vision Research book series (PIVR)


Amblyopia was originally defined as poor vision, or blunt sight. The aspect of the deficit that is most commonly characterized is acuity, usually in the ophthalmologist’s office with a Snellen chart. However, the deficit as a whole is much more complicated than this. There may be a loss of connections or a distortion or rearrangement of connections within the visual cortex. What happens varies, according to the problem that caused the deficit, because the compensation in the central nervous system is specific to the optical or motor problem that has to be compensated. In some cases, as we shall see, there can even be a distortion of vision without any loss of acuity. Thus, amblyopia covers a variety of different forms of poor vision. As far as is currently possible, this chapter will describe the variations.


Receptive Field Contrast Sensitivity Spatial Uncertainty Snellen Acuity Snellen Chart 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Bradley, A., and Freeman, R. D., 1981, Contrast sensitivity in anisometropic amblyopia, Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 21:467–476.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Enoch, J. M, Berger, R., and Bims, R., 1970, A static perimetric technique believed to test receptive field properties: Extension and verification of the analysis, Doc. Ophthalmol. 29:127–153.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Flom, M. C., and Bedell, H. E., 1985, Identifying amblyopia using associated conditions, acuity, and nonacuity features, Am. J. Optom. Physiol. Opt. 62:153–160.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Flom, M. C., Weymouth, F. W., and Kahneman, D., 1963, Visual resolution and contour interaction, J. Opt. Soc. Am. [A] 53:1026–1032.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Gstalder, R. J., and Green, D. G., 1971, Laser interferometric acuity in amblyopia, J. Pediatr. Ophthalmol. 8:251–256.Google Scholar
  6. Hess, R. F., 1977, On the relationship between strabismic amblyopia and eccentric fixation, Br. J. Ophthalmol. 61:767–773.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Hess, R. F., and Holliday, I. E., 1992, The spatial localization deficit in amblyopia, Vision Res. 32:1319–1339.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Hess, R. F., and Jacobs, R. J., 1979, A preliminary report of acuity and contour interaction across the amblyope’s visual field, Vision Res. 19:1403–1408.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Hess, R. F., and Pointer, J. S., 1985, Differences in the neural basis of human amblyopia: The distribution of the anomaly across the visual field, Vision Res. 25:1577–1594.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Hess, R. F., Campbell, F. W., and Greenhalgh, T, 1978, On the nature of the neural abnormality in human amblyopia: Neural aberrations and neural sensitivity loss, Pfluegers Arch. Gesamte Physiol. 377:201–207.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Hess, R. F., Field, D. J., and Watt, R. J., 1990, The puzzle of amblyopia, in: Vision: Coding and Efficiency (C. Blakemore, ed.), Cambridge University Press, London.Google Scholar
  12. Hubel, D. H., and Wiesel, T. N., 1960, Receptive fields of optic nerve fibres in the spider monkey, J. Physiol. (London) 154:572–580.Google Scholar
  13. Irvine, S. R., 1948, Amblyopia ex anopsia. Observations on retinal inhibition, scotoma, projection, light difference discrimination and visual acuity, Trans. Am. Ophthalmol. Soc. 66:527–575.Google Scholar
  14. Katz, B., and Sireteanu, R., 1990, The Teller acuity card test: A useful method for the clinical routine? Clin. Vis. Sci. 5:307–323.Google Scholar
  15. Levi, D. M., and Klein, S., 1982, Hyperacuity and amblyopia, Nature 298:268–270.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Levi, D. M., and Klein, S. A., 1985, Vernier acuity, crowding and amblyopia, Vision Res. 25:979–991.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Levi, D. M., and Klein, S. A., 1990, Equivalent intrinsic blur in amblyopia, Vision Res. 30:1995–2022.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Maurer, D., and Lewis, T. L., 1993, Visual outcomes after infantile cataract, in: Early Visual Development, Normal and Abnormal (K. Simons, ed.), Oxford University Press, London, pp. 454–484.Google Scholar
  19. Pugh, M., 1962, Amblyopia and the retina, Br. J. Ophthalmol. 46:193–211.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Sireteanu, R., and Fronius, M., 1981, Naso-temporal asymmetries in human amblyopia: Consequence of long-term interocular suppression, Vision Res. 21:1055–1063.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Sireteanu, R., and Fronius, M., 1989, Different patterns of retinal correspondence in the central and peripheral visual field of strabismics, Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 30:2023–2033.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. Sireteanu, R., Fronius, M., and Singer, W., 1981, Binocular interaction in the peripheral visual field of humans with strabismic and anisometropic amblyopia, Vision Res. 21:1065–1074.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Stuart, J. A., and Burian, H. M., 1962, A study of separation difficulty, Am. J. Ophthalmol. 53:471–477.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. Wilson, H. R., 1991, Model of peripheral and amblyopic hyperacuity, Vision Res. 31:967–982.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nigel W. Daw
    • 1
  1. 1.Yale University Medical SchoolNew Haven, ConnecticutUK

Personalised recommendations