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Year : 1996  |  Volume : 44  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 69-76

Neuronal basis of amblyopia: A review

1 Department of Clinical Ophthalmology and Save Sight Institute, University of Sydney, Australia
2 Department of Ophthalmology, Christian Medical College, Schell Eye Hospital, Vellore, India

Correspondence Address:
John Grigg
Department of Clinical Ophthalmology and Save Sight Institute, University of Sydney P.O.Box 493 Darlinghurst, NSW 2010, Australia
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

PMID: 8916592

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Amblyopia is an acquired defect in vision due to an abnormal visual experience during a sensitive period of visual development. The neuronal basis of amblyopia is the study of the effects of "abnormal" environmental influences on the genetically programmed development of the visual processing system. Visual pathway development commences with ganglion cells forming the optic nerve. The process that guides these neurones initially to the lateral geniculate nucleus (LGN) and then onto the visual cortex is genetically programmed. Initially this process is influenced by spontaneously generated impulses and neurotrophic factors. Following birth, visual stimuli modify and refine the genetically programmed process. Exposure to the visual environment includes the risk of abnormal inputs. Abnormal stimuli disrupt the formation of patterned inputs allowing alteration of visual cortical wiring with reduction in ocular dominance columns driven by the abnormal eye. Correction of the abnormal visual input and penalisation of the "normal" input is the mainstay of therapy for amblyopia. Further understanding of the mechanisms involved in the development of a normal visual processing system will allow trialing therapies for amblyopia not responding to occlusion therapy. Levodopa is one agent providing insights into recovery of visual function for short periods in apparently mature visual systems.

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