Treatment of amblyopia consists of several different approaches, including correct refractive correction, patching or penalization, vision training, and in certain cases depending on the cause, even surgery. Throughout modern history, patching was considered the most effective treatment that will lead to recovery of visual acuity in the amblyopic eyes. That said, with the advancement of computer and electronic devices capabilities in the last few decades, a plethora of newer, modern approaches to the treatment of amblyopia have emerged. Some of them were thoroughly discussed in our previous contributions and can be found here and here.
The purpose of today’s blog, though, is to discuss those approaches with regard to patching. In medicine, sometimes the best outcomes result from the combination of different treatments used, although admittedly often a single drug or a single procedure is all that is needed. In the case of amblyopia, depending slightly on the cause, a combination of corrective spectacles, patching, and vision training might bring the best possible results. Patching nonetheless remains a gold standard for amblyopia treatment, but some modern vision training approaches can indeed shorten the time of patching to achieve the same result or moderately facilitate the recovery in terms of restoring binocular visual function – which is just as important for healthy vision as visual acuity. Therefore, patching and vision training should not be seen as two rivalry treatment approaches but two that should, when used in combination, bring the best possible results for kids.
So then, whilst correct refractive correction and patching still represent the treatment of choice for kids with amblyopia, vision training is becoming more and more important as a supplementary, as well as a complementary treatment option. Studies have indicated that results increase significantly when we combine functional exercises through vision therapy and more traditional approaches such as patching. This not only helps speed up the recovery process but also takes care of stabilizing the vision so that the problem less frequently returns. Benefits of binocular vision training are especially welcome, as they actively engage both eyes, thus not only strengthening individual eyes but vision as a whole.