Duration of binocular decorrelation in infancy predicts the severity of nasotemporal pursuit asymmetries in strabismic macaque monkeys
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PURPOSE: Strabismus in human infants is linked strongly to nasotemporal asymmetries of smooth pursuit, but many features of this co-morbidity are unknown. The purpose of this study was to determine how the duration of early-onset strabismus (or timeliness of repair) affects the severity of pursuit asymmetries in a primate model. METHODS: Binocular image decorrelation was imposed on infant macaques by fitting them with prism goggles on day 1 of life. The goggles were removed after 3 weeks (n=2), 12 weeks (n=2) or 24 weeks (n=3), emulating surgical repair of strabismus in humans at 3, 12, and 24 months of age, respectively. Two control monkeys wore plano lenses. Several months after the goggles were removed, horizontal smooth pursuit was recorded using binocular search coils and a nasal-bias index (NBI) was calculated. RESULTS: Each animal in the 12- and 24-week groups developed a constant, alternating esotropic strabismus and a nasotemporal asymmetry of pursuit when viewing with either eye. Spatial vision was normal (no amblyopia). The 3-week duration monkeys were indistinguishable from control animals; they had normal eye alignment and symmetric pursuit. In the 12- and 24-week monkeys, the longer the duration of binocular decorrelation, the greater the pursuit asymmetry: for 15 degrees /s target motion, the NBI in the 12-week and 24-week animals was 16x and 22x greater respectively, than that in the 3-week animals (ANOVA, P=0.03). CONCLUSIONS: Binocular decorrelation in primates during an early period of fusion development causes permanent smooth pursuit asymmetries when the duration exceeds the equivalent of 3 months in human. These findings support the conclusion that early correction of infantile strabismus promotes normal development of cerebral gaze pathways.
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