Lancet study finds amblyopia best treated by patching early

Research involving 334 children found a higher rate of successful treatment among those who began wearing a patch early on 

Child wearing a yellow long sleeved top draws on a piece of paper with a blue pencil. A pair of scissors rest on the paper
Pixabay/Thomas G

New research from the European Paediatric Amblyopia Treatment Study for Children (EuPatch) has found that early patching is more effective in treating amblyopia than a lengthy period of wearing glasses before patching.

The research, which was published in Lancet, involved a group of 334 children between the ages of three and eight in the UK, Greece, Austria, Germany, and Switzerland.

Children with newly-detected, untreated amblyopia were eligible to take part. They were randomly assigned either to wear spectacles for 18 weeks before patching, or wear glasses for three weeks before patching.

The researchers found that 67% of children in the early patching group had successful treatment, compared to 54% of children in the group that had a longer period of spectacle wear before patching.

The EuPatch study was set up by the University of Leicester. Clinical lead and emeritus professor at the University of Leicester, Irene Gottlob, shared that an extended period of glasses wear before patching is a common approach to treating amblyopia in many countries.

“Amblyopia affects 1-5% of children and currently treatment outcomes are poor. We hope that the results of this study could pave the way for personalised treatment care for children with amblyopia, tailoring the type of treatment to the child,” she said.

Within the study, one group of younger children, with less severe amblyopia, did benefit from the 18-week period of wearing glasses before patching.

Frank Proudlock, an associate professor at University of Leicester’s Ulverscroft Eye Unit, shared that the study results introduced an important advancement in personalised medicine.