Spectacles alone can be a powerful treatment for amblyopia, which is the largest cause of childhood vision loss, according to Professor Monte Del Monte, director-pediatric ophthalmology, Mott Children’s Hospital, Michigan.
The professor was addressing a gathering of students and pediatric ophthalmologists during the 11th Mrs Nagamani Dharmapuri Endowment Lecture titled ‘Update on Amblyopia diagnosis and treatment for the 21st century’ on Tuesday. The lecture was organised by Sankara Nethralaya and the Madras City Ophthalmological Association.
Professor Del Monte added that while wearing spectacles alone can help equalise between the two eyes, full-time patching was not necessary and in some cases, it wasn’t necessary at all.
Amblyopia is an eye disorder that results in decreased vision in one or both eyes, resulting from abnormal visual input to the eye(s).
The condition, if treated early, can be completely eliminated.
“But for early treatment, we need early detection. Early detection can be improved through advocacy and education, developing technology and conducting genetic research,” the professor said.
He further said that the critical period for vision development and prevention of amblyopia was from birth to seven-nine years and diagnosis as early as three to four years can bring best results in treatment.
The professor also spoke about the prevalence of the disorder in the United States and said that around three per cent of the total 19 million children, which is about six lakh, under the age of five, have amblyopia.
He elaborated on the various efforts taken in the US in screening children for amblyopia and discussed how drug (atropine) and patching (small patch worn on the eye) worked as treatment for the condition, apart from spectacles.
Earlier, Dr J Radhakrishnan, Health Secretary, said that both public and private along with NGOs should work together in creating awareness particularly on the rapid advancements in treatment and services available.
“In India, about 63 million people have vision problems and in that eight million are blind. The main challenge of administrator is that 80 percent of ophthalmologists are city based,” the doctor added.
Dr T S Surendran and Dr SS Badrinath of Sankara Nethralaya and Dr Namitha Bhuvaneswari, Director of Regional Institute of Ophthalmology and Government Ophthalmic Hospital, were also present at the event.