Background: It is reported that 0.2 to 5.3% of children suffer from amblyopia. The traditional treatment for amblyopia has been to correct the refractive error and occlude the non-amblyopic eye. Compliance, however, with patching is a significant problem. The aim of this study was to investigate the parental knowledge of amblyopia and its treatment. We also wanted to explore the demographic and psychosocial impact of occlusion therapy on children with amblyopia and their parents.
Methods: Fifty-two parents and their children ages 2 to 13, undergoing occlusion therapy for amblyopia, participated in this study. Visual acuity at the initiation of occlusion therapy and the prescribed occlusion regimen were obtained from patient files. The compliance with occlusion therapy was based on self report of the parents. The emotional impact of occlusion therapy was determined by an emotional impact questionnaire. The experiences and the difficulties expressed by parents and children were noted in their own words.
Results: Strabismic amblyopia was the most prevalent type of amblyopia, followed by isoametropic amblyopia. Only 42% of the parents had an understanding of amblyopia and its treatment. However, the compliance with occlusion therapy was 78%. The occlusion therapy was a difficult experience for a majority of parents and their children. Many parents reported undue distress, difficulty, and a psychosocial impact secondary to occlusion therapy. Behavioral changes induced by occlusion therapy were also detected in 25% of children.
Conclusions: Parental understanding regarding amblyopia and occlusion therapy was lacking, but the compliance was good despite the psychosocial impact on both child and parent.