A review was conducted to examine the characteristics and pathogenesis of nutritional amblyopia. Published cases of amblyopia among malnourished allied prisoners of the Japanese during World War II and among Cubans malnourished during the recent economic embargo were analyzed. The picture of nutritional amblyopia derived from these publications is somewhat at variance with the conventional image of the disease. Surprising features include premonitory keratopathy, rapid onset of visual loss, a high incidence of hearing loss, and the presence of peripapillary retinopathy in some cases. No single causative factor can be identified. Genetic susceptibility rarely, if ever, plays a role. Vitamin deficiency may not be important. Protein deficiency, antioxidant deficiency, physical labor, and tobacco smoking are likely to contribute to the occurrence of amblyopia.