AIMS/BACKGROUND Pharmacological penalisation of non-amblyopic eyes is an infrequently used alternative to occlusion for treating amblyopia. The authors compared the efficacy of atropine penalisation and that of occlusion as a primary treatment for amblyopia.
METHODS Thirty six newly diagnosed patients with amblyopia were allocated to two groups for treatment. Eighteen patients in each group were treated either with atropine penalisation (group A) or occlusion therapy (group P).
RESULTS There was a statistically significant improvement in visual acuity in both groups treated. In group A improvement of the geometric mean visual acuity of the amblyopic eye was from 6/50 to 6/11 (p<0.001). In group P improvement of the geometric mean visual acuity was from 6/60 to 6/19 (p<0.001). In group A non-compliance with treatment was only 6% (2/18). Non-compliance in group P was 45% (8/18) at some stages of the treatment. Neither group produced an incidence of occlusion amblyopia.
CONCLUSIONS In this study atropine penalisation has been shown to be as effective as occlusion therapy in the treatment of amblyopia. Patient acceptance of atropine penalisation was superior to that for occlusion therapy as was shown by the compliance rate. Atropine treatment was also advantageous in that compliance could be readily checked by inspection.
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