Lazy Eye Treatments Don't Traumatize Children
Eye Patches, Glasses for Lazy Eye Don't Harm Kids' Emotional Well-Being
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.
"It's clear that many parents have some difficulty with
[lazy eye] treatment, and our results demonstrate how patching, in particular,
was significantly more difficult to carry out than glasses wear alone,"
write researcher S. Hrisos, of the University of Newcastle upon Tyne in
England, and colleagues.
However, the study showed that most parents in both treatment
groups thought their child was coping well with the treatment and only a
minority of parents said they had any arguments about lazy eye treatment at any
Moreover, no adverse effects of lazy eye treatments were found
on the children's well-being during or after treatment.
"Most children were described as being happy, cooperative,
and good tempered and having no problems at school or nursery at all ages, with
no differences between treatment groups," write the researchers. "By
5.5 years, a small, but significant proportion was occasionally experiencing
teasing at school, and all these were children who still wore glasses."
Researchers say the results show that compliance with
prescribed lazy eye treatments can be difficult and cause distress for parents
and children. They say this may be improved by giving parents detailed
information about their child's condition and treatment and taking a flexible
approach to treating lazy eye in young children.