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Weekend Treatments May Correct Lazy Eye

Eye Drops on Weekends as Good as Daily Eye Drops or Eye Patch
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WebMD Health News

Nov. 1, 2004 -- Treating a child with eye drops on the weekend alone may be enough to correct a lazy eye, according to a new study.

Researchers say the findings suggest that giving drops just twice during the weekend to children with a lazy eye is just as effective as giving them daily eye drops or having them wear an eye patch.

"As anyone who has given eye drops to a child knows, this is good news," says researcher Oscar Cruz, MD, chairman of the department of ophthalmology at Saint Louis University, in a news release. "It makes it much less of a hassle to administer the medicine, which is crucial for young patients to develop healthy vision."

Lazy eye, known in medical terms as amblyopia, is the most common cause of vision loss in children and young adults. The condition affects as many as 3% of children in the U.S. and usually begins in infancy or early childhood.

Lazy eye occurs when the brain favors one eye over the other. It can be corrected by temporarily worsening the vision in the stronger eye, which forces the lazy eye to work harder in order to compensate.

In the past, this was accomplished by placing an eye patch over the non-lazy eye. But recent research has shown that similar results can be achieved by using daily eye drops containing atropine that temporarily blur vision.

2 Drops Enough to Correct Lazy Eye

In the study, which appears in the November issue of Ophthalmology, researchers compared the effectiveness of using daily vs. twice weekly atropine eye drops in treating 168 children under the age of 7 with lazy eye. Half of the children received daily eye drops and the other half received drops on Saturday and Sunday only.

After four months of treatment, children in both groups were able to read an average of 2.3 lines higher on a standard eye chart.

In addition, 47% of the children who got daily drops and 53% of those who received weekend drops had vision in their lazy eye improve to normal levels by the end of the study.

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