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Less Time on Patch Corrects 'Lazy Eye'

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"Lazy eye" is fairly common among kids - it affects an estimated 3 percent of children in the United States. What else do many of these kids have in common? Feeling self-conscious about wearing an eye patch to correct the condition. But a new study's findings may convince these children to wear the patch.

The study found that for children with amblyopia, or a moderate lazy eye, wearing an eye patch for two hours a day is as effective as wearing the patch for six hours a day, which is the standard.

Amblyopia results when the brain favors one eye. This can cause wandering eyes, crossed eyes or a large difference in the visual strength of the two eyes. The weaker eye is forced to improve when a patch is worn over the stronger of the two eyes.

The study's findings appear in a recent issue of the Archives of Ophthalmology.

In the trial, 189 children under age 7 were assigned to wear an eye patch for four months. They were randomly assigned to wear the patch for two or six hours a day, and they were asked to spend an hour per day doing artwork or close-up reading in order to exercise the weaker eye.

The results of the study were surprising: Both groups of children performed identically when asked to read a standard eye chart.

Adherence to the eye-patch schedule is crucial, because in order to prevent visual impairment in adulthood, amblyopia must be treated during childhood.

SOURCE: HealthDay


Edited and compiled by Phyllis Stone.


(c) 2003, Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service.

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