Lazy Eye Treatments Don't Traumatize Children
Eye Patches, Glasses for Lazy Eye Don't Harm Kids' Emotional Well-Being
WebMD News Archive
Aug. 4, 2004 -- The eye patches and glasses used to treat young
children with lazy eye may cause some distress among parents, but new research
suggests they aren't likely to harm the children's emotional well-being.
In the largest study to date on the emotional impact of lazy
eye treatments in children, British researchers found that parents often
experience difficulty in getting their children to wear patches or glasses
designed to help correct lazy eye. But most children cope well with the
Lazy eye, known in medical terms as amblyopia, occurs when one
eye is not used enough for the visual system in the brain to develop properly.
The brain ignores the images from the weak eye and uses only those from the
stronger eye, leading to poor vision. Early treatment of lazy eye in young
children can partially or completely reverse the condition, but it becomes much
more difficult to treat successfully after children's vision is fully developed
by about age 9 or 10.
The Emotional Effect of Lazy Eye Treatments
In the study, published in the August issue of the journal
Ophthalmology, researchers surveyed parents of 151 children who were
referred for treatment of lazy eye from a preschool vision screening. The
children were randomly assigned to treatment with glasses with or without eye
patches, glasses alone, or to have their treatment deferred for one year.
The children's reaction to treatment at ages 4 and 5 were
similar. At both ages, about half of the parents reported at least some
difficulty in getting their child to wear his or her glasses, but less than a
third of children were ever upset by this treatment.
But the parents of children treated with eye patches had a
harder time. Three-quarters of parents said they had difficulty getting
children to wear their patch for the prescribed three hours per day at both
ages, and more than half of the children were at least occasionally upset by
Parents of 4-year-olds assigned to wear patches were also
significantly more likely to be upset by their child's patching treatment than
those who had been prescribed glasses.