(HealthDay News) — Most children treated for moderate amblyopia when <7 years have good visual acuity at 15 years of age, according to a study published in the July issue of JAMA Ophthalmology.

Michael X. Repka, MD, from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, and colleagues randomly assigned 419 children with amblyopia (visual acuity, 20/40–20/100) to either patching (minimum of six hours/day) or atropine sulfate eye drops (1%; one drop daily), for six months. After six months, treatment was at the discretion of the investigator. An unselected subgroup of 188 children were enrolled into long-term follow-up two years after enrollment.

The researchers found that mean visual acuity in the amblyopic eye measured at 15 years was approximately 20/25 in 147 participants; 59.9% of amblyopic eyes had visual acuity of 20/25 or better and 33.3% had visual acuity of 20/20 or better. At 15 years of age, the mean interocular acuity difference (IOD) was 2.1 lines, with 48.3% having an IOD of ≥2 lines and 71.4% having an IOD of ≥1 lines. Nine participants (aged 10–15 years; 6.1%) had prescribed treatment other than spectacles. At the 15-year examination, better visual acuity was achieved in those who were <5 years at the time of entry into the randomized clinical trial, compared with those aged 5–6 years (P<0.001). There were no significant differences in visual acuity of amblyopic and fellow eyes at 15 years of age when comparing original treatment with atropine or patching (P=0.44 and 0.43, respectively).

“The results indicate that improvement occurring with amblyopia treatment is maintained until at least 15 years of age,” the authors write.

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