Atropine as Effective as Patching in Treatment of Amblyopia

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) Mar 13 – Atropine and occlusive patching produce improvements of similar magnitude in young children treated for moderate amblyopia, according to results of a large, multicenter clinical trial.
As reported in the Archives of Ophthalmology for March, parents of the children significantly preferred atropine treatment because of its adverse effect profile, ease of compliance, and decreased social stigma their children experienced compared with patching.

Dr. Roy W. Beck, of the Jaeb Center for Health Research in Tampa, Florida, and members of the Pediatric Eye disease Investigator Group enrolled 419 subjects younger than 7 years old from 47 clinical sites. Visual acuity in the amblyopic eye measured between 20/40 to 20/100, with intereye differences of three or more logMAR lines. Patients were randomly assigned to patching, beginning at a minimum of 6 hours/day, or to 1% atropine administered at 1 drop per day.

Following 6 months of treatment, visual acuity improved by 316 lines among patients who were patched and by 2.84 lines among those treated with atropine. Treatment success–where the amblyopic eye's visual acuity had risen to at least 20/30 or had improved by at least three lines–was observed in 79% of the patching group and 74% of the atropine group. The authors consider these differences to be "clinically inconsequential."

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