Childhood amblyopia: current management and new trends

Br Med Bull. 2016 Sep;119(1):75-86. doi: 10.1093/bmb/ldw030. Epub 2016 Aug 19.


Introduction or background: With a prevalence of 2-5%, amblyopia is the most common vision deficit in children in the UK and the second most common cause of functional low vision in children in low-income countries.

Sources of data: Pubmed, Cochrane library and clinical trial registries (, ISRCTN, UKCRN portfolio database).

Areas of agreement: Screening and treatment at the age of 4-5 years are cost efficient and clinically effective. Optical treatment (glasses) alone can improve visual acuity, with residual amblyopia treated by part-time occlusion or pharmacological blurring of the better-seeing eye. Treatment after the end of the conventional 'critical period' can improve vision, but in strabismic amblyopia carries a low risk of double vision.

Areas of controversy: It is not clear whether earlier vision screening would be cost efficient and associated with better outcomes. Optimization of treatment by individualized patching regimes or early start of occlusion, and novel binocular treatment approaches may enhance adherence to treatment, provide better outcomes and shorten treatment duration.

Growing points: Binocular treatments for amblyopia.

Areas timely for developing research: Impact of amblyopia on education and quality of life; optimal screening timing and tests; optimal administration of conventional treatments; development of child-friendly, effective and safe binocular treatments.

Keywords: amblyopia*/diagnosis; amblyopia*/therapy; child; humans; treatment outcome; vision screening; visual acuity.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amblyopia / diagnosis*
  • Amblyopia / epidemiology
  • Amblyopia / physiopathology
  • Amblyopia / therapy*
  • Child
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Early Diagnosis
  • Eyeglasses*
  • Humans
  • Mass Screening / economics
  • Mass Screening / organization & administration*
  • Prevalence
  • Quality of Life
  • Treatment Outcome
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology