Just out: Amblyopic stereo vision is efficient but noisy

We have just published a study in Vision Research using a noise-masking approach to investigate stereopsis in amblyopia.

People with amblyopia demonstrate a reduced ability to judge depth using stereopsis. Our understanding of this deficit is limited, as standard clinical stereo tests may not be suited to give a quantitative account of the residual stereo ability in amblyopia. In this study we used a stereo test designed specifically for that purpose. Participants identified the location of a disparity-defined odd-one-out target within a random-dot display. We tested 29 amblyopic (3 strabismic, 17 anisometropic, 9 mixed) participants and 17 control participants. We obtained stereoacuity thresholds from 59% of our amblyopic participants. There was a factor of two difference between the median stereoacuity of our amblyopic (103 arcsec) and control (56 arcsec) groups. We used the equivalent noise method to evaluate the role of equivalent internal noise and processing efficiency in amblyopic stereopsis. Using the linear amplifier model (LAM), we determined the threshold difference was due to a greater equivalent internal noise in the amblyopic group (238 vs 135 arcsec), with no significant difference in processing efficiency. A multiple linear regression determined 56% of the stereoacuity variance within the amblyopic group was predicted by the two LAM parameters, with equivalent internal noise predicting 46% alone. Analysis of control group data aligned with our previous work, finding that trade-offs between equivalent internal noise and efficiency play a greater role. Our results allow a better understanding of what is limiting amblyopic performance in our task. We find this to be a reduced quality of disparity signals in the input to the task-specific processing.