Purpose: To assess the safety and efficacy of photorefractive keratectomy (PRK) in children with anisometropic amblyopia and to define the characteristics of children who may be candidates for PRK.
Methods: This thesis comprises four parts: (1) a retrospective analysis of risk factors predictive of amblyopia treatment failure in 104 children, (2) a prospective study of pachymetry in 198 eyes of 108 children, (3) development and implementation of a protocol to perform PRK under general anesthesia, and (4) a prospective interventional case-comparison study of PRK in 11 noncompliant children with anisometropic amblyopia to evaluate safety and long-term outcomes. Compliant and noncompliant children with anisometropic amblyopia were analyzed as controls.
Results: Factors associated with conventional anisometropic amblyopia treatment failure were poor compliance (P = .004), age 6 years or older (P = .01), astigmatism > or = 1.5 diopters (P = .0002), and initial visual acuity of 20/200 or worse (P = .02). Central and paracentral pachymetry measurements were similar to published adult values. The general anesthesia protocol was efficient, and the laser functioned properly in all cases. All children did well with no anesthesia-related or treatment-related complications. Two years following PRK, the mean reduction in refractive error was 9.7 +/- 2.6 diopters for myopes (P = .0001) and 3.4 +/- 1.3 diopters for hyperopes (P = .001). The cycloplegic refractive error in 9 of 11 treated eyes was within 3 diopters of that in the fellow eye. Uncorrected visual acuity in the amblyopic eye improved by > or = 2 lines in seven of nine children; best-corrected visual acuity improved by > or = 2 lines in six of nine children. Stereopsis improved in five of nine children. The mean visual acuity of the PRK patients at last follow-up was significantly better than that of noncompliant controls (P = .003). The safety and efficacy indices for PRK in this study were 1.24 and 1.12, respectively.
Conclusions: Photorefractive keratectomy can be safely performed in children with anisometropic amblyopia. Visual acuity and stereopsis improved in most eyes, even in older children. Photorefractive keratectomy may have an important role in the management of anisometropic amblyopia in noncompliant children.