The clinical profile of moderate amblyopia in children younger than 7 years

Arch Ophthalmol. 2002 Mar;120(3):281-7.


Objective: To describe the demographic and clinical characteristics of a cohort of children with moderate amblyopia participating in the Amblyopia Treatment Study 1, a randomized trial comparing atropine and patching.

Methods: The children enrolled were younger than 7 years and had strabismic, anisometropic, or combined strabismic and anisometropic amblyopia. Visual acuity, measured with a standardized testing protocol using single-surround HOTV optotypes, was 20/40 to 20/100 in the amblyopic eye, with an intereye acuity difference of 3 or more logMAR lines. There were 419 children enrolled, 409 of whom met these criteria and were included in the analyses.

Results: The mean age of the 409 children was 5.3 years. The cause of the amblyopia was strabismus in 38%, anisometropia in 37%, and both strabismus and anisometropia in 24%. The mean visual acuity of the amblyopic eyes (approximately 20/60) was similar among the strabismic, anisometropic, and combined groups (P =.24), but visual acuity of the sound eyes was worse in the strabismic group compared with the anisometropic group (P<.001). For the patients randomized into the patching group, 43% were initially treated for 6 hours per day, whereas 17% underwent full-time patching. Patients with poorer visual acuity in the amblyopic eye were prescribed more hours of patching than patients with better acuity (P =.003).

Conclusions: In the Amblyopia Treatment Study 1, there were nearly equal proportions of patients with strabismic and anisometropic amblyopia. A similar level of visual impairment was found irrespective of the cause of amblyopia. There was considerable variation in treatment practices with regard to the number of hours of initial patching prescribed.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Age Distribution
  • Amblyopia / epidemiology*
  • Amblyopia / etiology
  • Amblyopia / therapy
  • Anisometropia / complications
  • Anisometropia / epidemiology
  • Atropine / therapeutic use
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mydriatics / therapeutic use
  • Sensory Deprivation
  • Sex Distribution
  • Strabismus / complications
  • Strabismus / epidemiology
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Visual Acuity


  • Mydriatics
  • Atropine