Objective: To compare patching and atropine sulfate as treatments for moderate amblyopia in children 18 months after completion of a 6-month randomized trial.
Methods: In a randomized, multicenter (47 sites) clinical trial, 419 children younger than 7 years with amblyopia (20/40 to 20/100 in the affected eye) were assigned to receive either patching or atropine eye drops for 6 months. Between 6 months and 2 years, treatment was at the discretion of the investigator. Main Outcome Measure Visual acuity in the amblyopic eye and sound eye after 2 years.
Results: At 2 years, visual acuity in the amblyopic eye improved from baseline a mean of 3.7 lines in the patching group and 3.6 lines in the atropine group. The difference in visual acuity between treatment groups was small: 0.01 logMAR (95% confidence interval, -0.02 to 0.04). In both treatment groups, the mean amblyopic eye acuity was approximately 20/32, 1.8 lines worse than the mean sound eye acuity, which was approximately 20/20.
Conclusions: Atropine or patching for 6 months followed by best clinical care until 2 years produced similar improvement of moderate amblyopia in children between 3 and 7 years of age at enrollment. However, on average the amblyopic eye acuity was still approximately 2 lines worse than the sound eye.