Purpose.: We previously showed that anisometropic amblyopia affects the programming and execution of saccades and reaching movements. In our current study, we investigated whether these amblyopia-related changes simply are due to a reduction in visual acuity alone by inducing artificial blur in one eye in visually-normal participants.
Methods.: Twelve visually-normal participants performed saccades and reach-to-touch movements to targets presented on a computer screen during binocular and monocular viewing. A contact lens was used to blur the vision of one eye to a mean acuity level of 20/50. Saccades and reaching kinematics were compared before blur, immediately after blur, and 5 hours after blur was induced. The 5 hours after blur kinematic data from visually-normal participants also were compared to those from 12 patients with anisometropic amblyopia who had comparable acuity in the amblyopic eye.
Results.: Primary saccades (latency, amplitude, peak velocity), reaching movements (reaction time, movement time, peak acceleration, duration of the acceleration phase), and eye-hand coordination (saccade-to-reach planning interval, saccade-to-reach peak velocity interval) were not affected by induced monocular blur in visually-normal participants, either immediately or 5 hours after blur. Compared to visually-normal participants after 5 hours of blur, patients with anisometropic amblyopia had significantly longer and more variable saccade latency during amblyopic eye viewing, lower peak acceleration, and a longer acceleration phase during reaching, and a different temporal pattern of eye-hand coordination.
Conclusions.: Artificially-induced monocular blur in visually-normal participants did not affect saccades, reaching movements, and eye-hand coordination during a simple reach-to-touch task even after a period of blur exposure. In contrast, patients with anisometropic amblyopia demonstrated significantly different kinematics while performing the same task. These results indicate that loss of visual acuity alone cannot explain the kinematic changes seen in patients with mild anisometropic amblyopia.