Purpose.: To investigate oculomotor strategies in strabismic amblyopia and evaluate abnormalities during monocular and binocular reading.
Methods.: Eye movements were recorded with a head-mounted infrared video eye-tracker (250 Hz, <0.01° resolution) in 20 strabismic amblyopes (mean age, 44.9 ± 10.7 years) and 20 normal control subjects (mean age, 42.8 ± 10.9 years) while they silently read paragraphs of text. Monocular reading comparisons were made between the amblyopic eye and the nondominant eye of control subjects and the nonamblyopic eye and the dominant eye of the control subjects. Binocular reading between the amblyopic and control subjects was also compared.
Results.: Mean reading speed, number of progressive and regressive saccades per line, saccadic amplitude (of progressive saccades), and fixation duration were estimated. Inter- and intrasubject statistical comparisons were made. Reading speed was significantly slower in amblyopes than in control subjects during monocular reading with amblyopic (13.094 characters/s vs. 22.188 characters/s; P < 0.0001) and nonamblyopic eyes (16.241 characters/s vs. 22.349 characters/s, P < 0.0001), and binocularly (15.698 characters/s vs. 23.425 characters/s, P < 0.0001). In amblyopes, reading was significantly slower with the amblyopic eye than with the nonamblyopic eye in binocular viewing (P < 0.05). These differences were associated with significantly more regressive saccades and longer fixation durations, but not with changes in saccadic amplitudes.
Conclusions.: In strabismic amblyopia, reading is impaired, not only during monocular viewing with the amblyopic eye, but also with the nonamblyopic eye and binocularly, even though normal visual acuity pertains to the latter two conditions. The impaired reading performance is associated with differences in both the saccadic and fixational patterns, most likely as adaptation strategies to abnormal sensory experiences such as crowding and suppression.