Over the past few months many interesting papers were published in all fields of ophthalmology but two of them are of particular interest to us and to you and they address very prevalent eye conditions in children, namely amblyopia and myopia. Let us summarize the findings of different research and discuss why they are so important in our field.
Research shows that teenagers spending more time on their smartphones and less time outdoors are at an increased risk of developing myopia
A study conducted by a Dutch research group and published last month in a reputable medical journal Ophthalmology discovered on a sample of 525 participating teenagers that the teenagers spent on average almost 4 hour per day on their smartphones. Moreover, they also spent more than 20 minutes continuously on their devices on more than 6 occasions every day. Individuals who used smartphones continuously (that is more than 20 min at a single time) more frequently were associated with more myopic refractive errors, which was even worse if they also spent very limited time outdoors. Children as well as teenagers should be therefore encouraged to spend as much time as possible outdoors, spend limited time on their smartphones and institute frequent breaks when they are using their smartphones – not more than 20 minutes at a time.
Combined penalization (atropine) and patching could yield better outcome than patching alone in amblyopia treatment
Another reputable journal in the field, JAMA Ophthalmology, published an interesting study a few weeks ago which scrutinized whether adding atropine to patching could be beneficial to patching alone in children with amblyopia aged 3 to 12 years. Since amblyopia treatment compliance, something that we have thoroughly discussed before, is oftentimes an issue that limits its effectiveness, adding atropine as a form of penalization seems a tempting idea. Indeed, children who were prescribed patching and atropine drops achieved better visual acuity at the end of the study than children that used patching alone. It is important to note, though, that visual acuity differences were very small and further research will be needed. If anything, this is yet another study which proves how important compliance to the prescribed treatment in amblyopia really is.