In this randomized clinical trial conducted at 30 sites across the United States, Canada and Mexico, 175 children with visual acuity of 20/100 to 20/400 in the amblyopic eye were prescribed patching for six-hour or full-time regimens. At least three to four percent of children in the United States suffer from amblyopia, a condition that decreases vision, most often due to crossing of the eyes or having one eye with uncorrected refractive error (i.e. farsightedness, astigmatism or high nearsightedness).
After four months, the improvement in visual acuity in the six-hour group was nearly identical to the improvement in the full-time group. Jonathan M. Holmes, MD, a pediatric ophthalmologist at the Mayo Clinic and co-chair of the Pediatric Eye Disease Investigator Group, said patching for fewer hours eases implementation of the therapy and compliance monitoring for parents. Dr. Holmes, who chaired the study, further explained, "The caveat should be that if the child doesn't respond to six hours per day, then increased patching intensity should be considered. But for severe amblyopia, it is reasonable to start with six hours a day of patching, rather than full-time patching."
"This is the latest in a series of important research results that will help preserve the vision of children with amblyopia," said Paul A. Sieving, M.D., Ph.D., director of the National Eye Institute (NEI), National Institutes of Health, the Federal government agency that funded the study.
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