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10 Days in total darkness: Participants wanted for experimental treatment on adult amblyopia


Have you been diagnosed with amblyopia or “lazy eye”?  Are you excited by unusual challenges—in this case, spending up to 10 days in total darkness?  The State University of New York (SUNY) College of Optometry is seeking participants for a 17-month pilot study to explore new treatments for amblyopia in adults.

If you have decreased vision in one eye due to anisometropia (difference in prescription between the two eyes), then you could be a candidate for this experiment.  You must have 20/25 or better vision in one eye (with correction is OK), and blurred vision in the other eye that was not caused by strabismus (eye turn).

Participants will receive a comprehensive eye exam.  If a new prescription will allow you to see better, we will provide new glasses or contact lenses. You will be spending up to ten days in total darkness—sequestered with 3 other participants. Accommodations, meals and activities will be provided. You will also be asked to commit to doing vision exercises (including video games and patching) for 45 minutes per day, 5 days a week, for 8 weeks. You will have to come to the University Eye Center (33 W. 42nd St.) 18 vision tests over the course of 15 months. You will be paid a stipend of $100 per day for the sequestration portion of the study if you are chosen (or $20 per day for this period if you are chosen as a participant who does not go into the dark). You will also be compensated for doing vision training ($10 /day, $400 total), and for visual, psychological, and physical examinations ($15 per visit). If you are healthy, highly motivated to help find treatments for amblyopia, extremely reliable, and have outstanding group living skills, we would like to hear from you. 

To apply to participate, you must:

  • have been told by a medical/eye care professional you have amblyopia (acuity of 20/40 to 20/400 in the amblyopic eye)
  • not have a history of strabismus (eye turn or previous surgery for eye turn)
  • be a healthy, nonsmoking adult (age 18 or older), not dependent on alcohol or drugs.
  • be in the New York area for the next 15 months.
  • complete a full application (which includes additional requirements)


This NIH-funded experiment is being conducted by Professor Benjamin Backus and others at the SUNY College of Optometry, with additional collaboration from scientists at the University of Maryland and Nova Southeastern University.