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Eyedrops May Help Lazy Eye

Atropine effective alternative to patching for treatment of kids

(HealthDay is the new name for HealthScoutNews.)

FRIDAY, Aug. 8, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- Parents may soon have an alternative to eye patches if their children develop lazy eye.

Johns Hopkins researchers report that atropine eyedrops may be effective in treating amblyopia in children between the ages of 3 and 7.

That good news for parents comes from a study in the Aug. 8 issue of Ophthalmology.

The study included 1,419 children across the United States randomly assigned to receive either patching or atropine. Their progress was tracked for six months.

Initially, the children in the patching group showed greater improvement. By six months, however, there was no significant difference in results between those who were treated with patching of the strong eye and those who received 1 percent atropine drops in the strong eye.

Atropine was the favored treatment according to a patient questionnaire completed after the first five weeks of treatment.

"Our findings are important because previous retrospective case studies suggested atropine might be less effective than patching, and that it was largely ineffective in children with poorer visual acuity," lead investigator Dr. Michael X. Repka, professor of ophthalmology at the Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins University, says in a statement.

"However, our study found atropine was just as effective when visual acuity in the poor eye was 20/100, as it was when acuity was 20/40. These preliminary findings suggest the need for future study, in which we will assess the effect of atropine at visual acuity levels worse than 20/100," Repka says.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about amblyopia.

SOURCE: American Academy of Ophthalmology, news release, Aug. 8, 2003
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