Objective: To compare 2 hours of daily patching (combined with 1 hour of concurrent near visual activities) with a control group of spectacle wear alone (if needed) for treatment of moderate to severe amblyopia in children 3 to 7 years old.
Design: Prospective randomized multicenter clinical trial (46 sites).
Participants: One hundred eighty children 3 to 7 years old with best-corrected amblyopic-eye visual acuity (VA) of 20/40 to 20/400 associated with strabismus, anisometropia, or both who had worn optimal refractive correction (if needed) for at least 16 weeks or for 2 consecutive visits without improvement.
Intervention: Randomization either to 2 hours of daily patching with 1 hour of near visual activities or to spectacles alone (if needed). Patients were continued on the randomized treatment (or no treatment) until no further improvement was noted.
Main outcome measure: Best-corrected VA in the amblyopic eye after 5 weeks.
Results: Improvement in VA of the amblyopic eye from baseline to 5 weeks averaged 1.1 lines in the patching group and 0.5 lines in the control group (P = 0.006), and improvement from baseline to best measured VA at any visit averaged 2.2 lines in the patching group and 1.3 lines in the control group (P<0.001).
Conclusion: After a period of treatment with spectacles, 2 hours of daily patching combined with 1 hour of near visual activities modestly improves moderate to severe amblyopia in children 3 to 7 years old.