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Ophthalmology. 2004 Aug;111(8):1550-6.

The emotional impact of amblyopia treatment in preschool children: randomized controlled trial.

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Department of Ophthalmology, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom.



To investigate the emotional status of children undergoing active treatment for amblyopia.


Postal survey, in the context of a prospective, multicenter, randomized controlled trial.


Parents of 177 children with a unilateral visual impairment referred from preschool vision screening. The children had been recruited to a randomized controlled trial of treatment for unilateral visual impairment and randomly assigned to receive either glasses with or without patches, glasses alone, or treatment deferred for 1 year.


A self-completion questionnaire, including a psychometric behavioral scale, was sent to the parents of all children recruited to the trial at age 4 years, to 66 whose deferred treatment began at age 5 years, and finally to 151 remaining in the trial at the end of follow-up.


Mean scores per treatment group on the Revised Rutter Parent Scale for Preschool Children. Comparison of parent responses to questions assessing the child's general well-being and difficulties associated with treatment.


Completed questionnaires were returned for 144 of 177 (81%) children at a mean age (standard deviation) of 48 months (5.0), for 45 of 66 (68%) at a mean age of 61 months (5.8), and for 78 of 151 (52%) at a mean age of 67 months (5.0). Most parents reported having difficulty with patching their child regardless of age (77% at age 4 years and 73% at age 5 years), with fewer reporting difficulties with glasses alone (42% and 53%, respectively). Children were significantly more upset by patching than by glasses only (chi-square test, P = 0.03 for age 4 years and P = 0.01 for age 5 years), as were the parents of 4-year-olds (chi-square test, P = 0.01). Most parents thought their children were happy, cooperative, and good tempered, and behavioral scores did not differ between treatment groups.


Treatment for unilateral visual impairment is not easy to implement and is commonly associated with some degree of distress. Despite this, no impact on the child's global well-being or behavior was seen either during or after the treatment period.

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