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Efficacy of Amblyopia Treatments in Children Up to Seven Years Old: A Systematic Review.

  • Yeritsyan, Artashes1
  • Surve, Ashka V1
  • Ayinde, Bolaji1
  • Chokshi, Priyank2, 3
  • Adhikari, Sanjeev2
  • Jaimalani, Aniket1, 4
  • Hamid, Pousette5
  • 1 Medicine, California Institute of Behavioral Neurosciences & Psychology, Fairfield, USA.
  • 2 Internal Medicine, California Institute of Behavioral Neurosciences & Psychology, Fairfield, USA.
  • 3 Internal Medicine, Pandit Deendayal Upadhyay Medical College, Rajkot, IND.
  • 4 Internal Medicine, Surat Municipal Institute of Medical Education and Research, Surat, IND.
  • 5 Neurology, California Institute of Behavioral Neurosciences & Psychology, Fairfield, USA.
Published Article
Cureus, Inc.
Publication Date
Mar 01, 2024
DOI: 10.7759/cureus.56705
PMID: 38650802


Amblyopia is a neurodevelopmental disorder of the visual system that impairs the vision of millions of children worldwide. Amblyopia is best treated within the sensitive period of visual development when a child is up to seven years of age. Currently, the gold standard for early treatment of childhood amblyopia is patching, with new treatments emerging in recent years. We aim to evaluate the effectiveness of these newly developed treatments for amblyopia in children aged seven years and younger while comparing them to the current industry standard of patching. We searched online databases including PubMed, Google Scholar, and Cochrane Library for randomized controlled trials (RCTs), systematic reviews, meta-analyses, and narrative reviews relating to amblyopia treatment in children aged seven and younger. We only included articles and studies completed within the last five years and those written in the English language. After compiling a list of 297 articles, we removed duplicates, articles without an available full text, and those not relevant to our topic. Of the remaining 51 articles, we were left with 22 after reading abstracts and removing further irrelevant articles. We did a quality assessment on the remaining 22 articles and were left with 14 articles for our systematic review after removing eight low-quality articles. Of the 14 articles, we had eight RCTs, two systematic reviews, one comparative interventional study, and three narrative reviews. Seven of the articles contained data reinforcing the effectiveness of patching while comparing it to other treatment modalities. Three of the articles had data supporting spectacle correction, including a novel form called alternative flicker glass which delivers occlusion therapy via a spectacle frame with unique lenses, and ultimately deemed it at least as effective or more than patching. Data from three articles supported the use of surgery to successfully correct the angle of strabismus. Findings from five articles backed the use of pharmacologic therapy, specifically atropine when used alongside patching as a more effective alternative to patching solely. However, levodopa plus patching had no advantage over patching alone. Additionally, seven articles addressed the use of virtual reality (VR) and dichoptic therapy as prospective treatments for childhood amblyopia. VR therapy proved beneficial when used within one week after strabismus surgery. Dichoptic training was also effective in improving amblyopic-eye visual acuity when used on its own or in conjunction with spectacles. Furthermore, dichoptic movie therapy was found to be more effective than patching. Thus, we found multiple highly effective treatments for childhood amblyopia that are as effective or more than patching. Future studies should consider prescribing these treatments to larger cohorts while also performing a cost-benefit analysis for each treatment. In addition, more needs to be learned about the potential adverse side effects of these treatments, especially for pharmaceutical therapy. Copyright © 2024, Yeritsyan et al.

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