Purpose: The purpose of this study was to assess the psychosocial effects of growing up with and living with amblyopia and to determine whether patients with amblyopia but without strabismus encounter psychosocial problems similar to those encountered by individuals with strabismus.
Methods: A 20-question survey focusing on medical background, education, self-image, history of amblyopia, treatment of amblyopia, and effects of amblyopia on work, school, friendships, and self-esteem was provided to patients with amblyopia but not strabismus at Saint Louis University Eye Institute and at the University of Iowa Department of Ophthalmology. In addition, patients were evaluated in terms of somatization, obsession-compulsion, interpersonal sensitivity, depression, and anxiety. Results for patients with amblyopia were compared with those of strabismic, normative, and psychopathologic groups using the Hopkins Symptom Checklist (HSC).
Results: Twenty-five patients with amblyopia but without strabismus or previous surgery responded. A significant number of patients felt that amblyopia interfered with school (52%) and work (48%) to some degree and were generally affected in their lifestyle (50%). Fewer were affected in their play of sports (40%) or were influenced as to their job choice (36%). Patients with amblyopia as a whole had a greater degree of somatization, obsessive-compulsive behavior, interpersonal sensitivity, depression, and anxiety than patients with strabismus and HSC control subjects. Differences between patients with amblyopia and those with strabismus were not statistically significant (P > .05), but differences between patients with amblyopia and HSC control subjects were significant (P < .05) in each category. Patients with amblyopia, however, were less symptomatic in these areas than HSC Anxious and HSC Depressed groups.
Conclusion: Psychosocial difficulties related to amblyopia affect individuals' self-image, work, school, and friendships. Amblyopia has a significant effect on psychosocial functioning and warrants aggressive screening, prevention and treatment during the amblyogenic years.