In order to better understand whether white matter structural deficits are present in strabismic amblyopia, we performed a survey of the tissue properties of 28 major white matter tracts using diffusion and quantitative magnetic resonance imaging approaches.
We used diffusion-based tensor modeling and a new quantitative T1 protocol to measure fractional anisotropy (FA), mean diffusivity (MD), and myelin-sensitive T1 values. We surveyed tracts in the occipital lobe, including the vertical occipital fasciculus (VOF)-a newly rediscovered tract that bridges dorsal and ventral areas of the occipital lobe, as well as tracts across the rest of the brain.
Adults with long-standing strabismic amblyopia show tract-specific elevations in MD. We rank-ordered the tracts on the basis of their MD effect-size. The four most affected tracts were the anterior frontal corpus callosum (ACC), the right VOF, the left inferior longitudinal fasciculus (ILF) and the left optic radiation.
The results suggest that most white matter tissue properties are relatively robust to the early visual insult caused by strabismus. However, strabismic amblyopia does affect MD, not only in occipital tracts, such as the VOF and optic radiation, but also in long range association tracts connecting visual cortex to the frontal and temporal lobes (ILF) and connecting the two hemispheres (ACC).