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Lazy Eye in Children: Less Patch Time OK

Moderate Amblyopia Better in Kids Who Wear Patch Just 2 Hours/Day

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After four months, both groups had the same amount of improvement: They could see two or three more lines on an eye chart than they could read before.

"The majority of improvement occurs in the first three months of treatment," Repka says. "I think the kids will still get better with ongoing treatment. We still see improvement six and 12 months out. We advise parents to continue patching as long as improvement continues."

These findings don't apply to lazy eye in children with more severe amblyopia. However, Repka and Lambert note that ongoing clinical trials are looking at ways to cut patch time for some of these kids, too.

It's important to diagnose lazy eye as soon as possible. Children learn to compensate for the unseeing eye, and sometimes don't even notice their vision loss. But Lambert says pediatric ophthalmologists have techniques for diagnosing the condition even in children who have not yet learned to talk. While it's better to begin treatment early than late, Lambert says that some kids benefit from treatment long after the age of 7.

"The upper age limit for patching is not known," Lambert tells WebMD. "After the age of 7, patching is less effective. But there is not a definite cutoff age. In another study, we are looking at patients age 7 to 18 to see how effective patching is. There is probably some group that responds when older, but not as readily and not with as much effect as seen in younger children."

The study findings appear in the May issue of the Archives of Ophthalmology.

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