The findings, which appear in the May issue of the Archives of Ophthalmology, will likely change the way doctors treat moderate amblyopia and could lead to better compliance with treatment and improved quality of life for children with amblyopia, researchers say. The most common cause of visual impairment in childhood, amblyopia affects as many as 3 percent of children in the United States.
In the study, 189 children up to age 7, all with moderate amblyopia, were randomly assigned to wear an eye patch for two hours or six hours daily for four months. Both groups of children also performed one hour a day of "near" work, such as coloring, tracing, reading, and crafts, while their eye was patched. Children in both groups showed significant improvement in the vision of the eye with amblyopia, the researchers found.
"After four months, we found that 79 percent of children in the two-hour group and 76 percent of children in the six-hour group could read at least two more lines on the standard eye chart, a clear indication that wearing the patch for just two hours is an effective means of treatment," said study chairman Michael Repka, M.D., a pediatric ophthalmologist at the Children's Center and Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins.
Repka noted that these findings do not necessarily apply to all children with amblyopia. "Children with more severe amblyopia, or who have amblyopia from causes other than crossed eyes or refractive error, may need a different treatment regimen," he said. "The Pediatric Eye Disease Investigator Group (PEDIG), which conducted this study, is currently conducting a clinical trial on children with severe ambl
Contact: Jessica Collins
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions