Effects on perceptual development of visual deprivation during infancy.
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We measured three aspects of vision in children treated for unilateral congenital cataract: visual resolution, the symmetry of optokinetic nystagmus (OKN), and peripheral vision. Good visual resolution was achieved by children who had had the earliest treatment and who had had the normal eye patched close to 50% of the waking time throughout early childhood. All children treated for unilateral congenital cataract showed a marked asymmetry of OKN regardless of the age of treatment. One child with early treatment who could be tested with the Goldmann perimeter also showed especially poor sensitivity in the nasal visual field of her aphakic eye. We found no such deficits in the vision of children who had had normal visual experience during early infancy and then later developed cataracts in one or both eyes. The limitations observed in children treated for congenital cataract are similar to those reported in normal human infants, in normal kittens, and in cats which were visually deprived early in life.
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