The permanence of the visual recovery that follows reverse occlusion of monocularly deprived kittens.
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While the behavioral and physiologic effects of an early period of monocular deprivation can be extremely severe, they are not necessarily irreversible. Considerable recovery can occur if visual input is restored to the deprived eye sufficiently early, particularly if the nondeprived eye is occluded at the same time (reverse occlusion). This study examines the permanence of the visual recovery promoted by a period of reverse occlusion in kittens that were monocularly deprived from near birth for periods ranging from 3 to 18 weeks. During the period of reverse occlusion, the vision of the initially deprived eye improved from apparent blindness to good levels of acuity. However, upon restoring visual input to the formerly nondeprived eye a surprisingly rapid and reciprocal change occurred in the visual acuity of both eyes. Much of the substantial gain in the vision of the initially deprived eye that occurred during reverse occlusion was lost within 3 weeks, while at the same time the vision of the initially nondeprived eye improved substantially. Nevertheless, in many animals the acuity of the initially nondeprived eye did not recover to levels it had reached prior to reverse occlusion. These results hold important implications for the nature of the mechanisms responsible for the dramatic physiologic effects of monocular occlusion and reverse occlusion on the visual cortex. The results also may help elucidate recent observations on patching therapy in human amblyopia.
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