Older children can benefit from treatment for childhood's most common eye disorder

hile the eye drops were administered daily for the children seven though 12 years of age.

The study investigators defined successful vision improvement as the ability to read (with the eye with amblyopia) at least two more lines on a standard eye chart. The study investigators found that 53 percent of children age seven through 12 years who received both glasses and treatment with patches and near activity met this standard, while only 25 percent of those children in this age group who received glasses alone met the standard. For children age 13 through 17 years who were treated with both glasses and patches (these children did not get drops), 25 percent met the standard while 23 percent of children of these ages who received only glasses met the standard.

The study also revealed that among children age 13 through 17 years who had not been previously treated for amblyopia, 47 percent of those who were treated with glasses, patching and near activities improved two lines or more compared with only 20 percent of those treated with glasses alone. Despite the benefits of the treatment, most children, including those who responded to treatment, were left with some visual impairment. They did not obtain "20/20" vision.

"This study shows how important it is to screen children of all ages for amblyopia." said study co-chairman Richard W. Hertle, M.D., Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh.

Commented co-chairman Mitchell M. Scheiman, O.D., Pennsylvania College of Optometry, "This study shows that age alone should not be used as a factor to decide whether or not to treat a child for amblyopia. The opportunity to treat amblyopia does not end with the pre-school years."

It is not known, say the authors of the current study, whether vision improvement will be sustained in these children once treatment is discontinued. The NEI is supporting a one-year, follow-up study to determine the percentage of amblyopia

Contact: Steve Berberich
NIH/National Eye Institute

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