Lazy eye is a condition in which the brain favors one eye over the other. It is the most common cause of visual impairment in children, with symptoms including crossed eyes, farsightedness and nearsightedness. Lazy eye affects as many as 3% of U.S. children and usually develops in infancy or early childhood. Eye drops are just as effective as eye patches for treating "lazy eye" and are less likely to be avoided by children.
Standard treatment has been eye patches worn over the unaffected eye to stimulate better vision in the "lazy" eye. The same thing happens with atropine drops, which temporarily blur vision in the unaffected eye. But parents have difficulty getting children to wear eye patches because of inconvenience. The study found children and parents preferred atropine drops and were more likely to use them than patches.
"This may well become a new standard treatment for some forms of amblyopia," the medical name for lazy eye, said Dr. Paul Sieving, director of the National Eye Institute. The study found the drops worked as well as patches in treating mild to moderate forms of the disorder in children ages 3 to 6. More severe forms, may require patches.