Amblyopia Treatment Today and Into the Future

OOA Member, Dr. Cara Frasco, featured in the Winter/Spring edition of Lazy Eye News, the bi-annual newsletter for the Ohio Amblyope Registry (OAR):

Today many children with amblyopia (commonly known as lazy eye) can successfully be treated with fewer hours of eye patching per day and for a shorter time period. A study of over 400 children found that after 2 months of patching most children had better vision. Their vision improved regardless if they did near activities such as coloring or distance activities like watching television, when wearing the eye patch. The most important factor is being consistent with wearing the patch for the prescribed number of hours every day.

Recently, several studies are trying to incorporate technology in the treatment of amblyopia to help children with a lazy eye improve their vision. In fact, a current study in the United Kingdom is investigating the I-BiT™ virtual reality system. This technology involves playing a computer game or watching a DVD displayed through virtual reality glasses. The lazy eye (weak eye) is shown the more interesting part of the game or DVD, while the good eye is shown the background. A small test study showed this technology worked very well for children who would not wear an eye patch but requires weekly trips to the doctor for treatment sessions. This large study testing the I-BiT™ system is currently underway and should be complete in late 2013.

Another new potential treatment for amblyopia could reside in the Amblyz electronic eyeglasses. These glasses use liquid crystal lenses to briefly block the vision in the good eye for fractions of a second. It is reported that the child has minimal awareness of this quick effect. These glasses can be made with prescriptive lenses for children that need to wear glasses as part of their treatment. The child would wear the Amblyz glasses all day and recharge them at night. As with most new technology this will likely be costly at first but may offer another treatment option in the future. These glasses are not yet available in the US.

Wearing virtual reality glasses, using game applications on an Apple iPod touch or playing action video games may be recommended by your eye doctor in the near future. Incorporating technology into the prescribed treatment plan will likely be a great motivator for the youngest and most active patients. Remember that amblyopia is a preventable form of blindness. Patching, wearing glasses,using eye drops or visual activities could be prescribed to improve vision. Develop a partnership with your child and his eye doctor to ensure the most successful visual outcome.

The entire newsletter can be downloaded here.

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