Contrast-balanced binocular treatment in children with deprivation amblyopia
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BACKGROUND: Children with deprivation amblyopia due to childhood cataract have been excluded from much of the emerging research into amblyopia treatment. An investigation was conducted to determine whether contrast-balanced binocular treatment - a strategy currently being explored for children with anisometropic and strabismic amblyopia - may be effective in children with deprivation amblyopia. METHODS: An unmasked, case-series design intended to assess proof of principle was employed. Eighteen children with deprivation amblyopia due to childhood cataracts (early bilateral n = 7, early unilateral n = 7, developmental n = 4), as well as 10 children with anisometropic (n = 8) or mixed anisometropic and strabismic amblyopia (n = 2) were prescribed one hour a day of treatment over a six-week period. Supervised treatment was available. Visual acuity, contrast sensitivity, global motion perception and interocular suppression were measured pre- and post-treatment. RESULTS: Visual acuity improvements occurred in the anisometropic/strabismic group (0.15 ± 0.05 logMAR, p = 0.014), but contrast sensitivity did not change. As a group, children with deprivation amblyopia had a smaller but statistically significant improvement in weaker eye visual acuity (0.09 ± 0.03 logMAR, p = 0.004), as well a significant improvement in weaker eye contrast sensitivity (p = 0.004). Subgroup analysis suggested that the children with early bilateral deprivation had the largest improvements, while children with early unilateral cataract did not improve. Interestingly, binocular contrast sensitivity also improved in children with early bilateral deprivation. Global motion perception improved for both subgroups with early visual deprivation, as well as children with anisometropic or mixed anisometropic/strabismic amblyopia. Interocular suppression improved for all subgroups except children with early unilateral deprivation. CONCLUSION: These data suggest that supervised contrast-balanced binocular treatment should be further investigated as a treatment option for children with deprivation amblyopia. However, for children with more severe deprivation amblyopia due to early unilateral cataracts, supplementary or alternative options should also be explored.
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