Reports are conflicting on the presence of increased drift in amblyopic eyes. Furthermore, the individual effects of either amblyopia or strabismus alone on ocular drift have not been systematically investigated. We therefore used a photoelectric method to record horizontal eye position during monocular and binocular fixation in patients having amblyopia without strabismus, intermittent strabismus, or constant strabismus amblyopia. Our principal finding was increased drift amplitude (up to 3.5 degree) and velocity (up to 3.0 degrees per second) in amblyopic eyes during monocular fixation. While increased drift was found 75% of the time in amblyopia without strabismus and 50% of the time in constant strabismus amblyopia, it was found only 20% of the time in intermittent strabismus. Amblyopic drift could be either error-producing or error-correcting in nature. Increased drift was not present during monocular fixation with the dominant eye or during binocular fixation in any of our 16 patients. We therefore conclude that amblyopia and not strabismus is a necessary condition for the presence of markedly increased fixational drift. Increased drift amplitude but not velocity may adversely affect visual acuity in the amblyopic eye.
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