A new study, presented at the American Academy of Ophthalmology annual meeting in November, found that programmable electronic glasses help improve vision in children with amblyopia just as well as patching. Researchers at the Glick Eye Institute at Indiana University completed a randomized clinical study of 33 children with amblyopia between the ages of three and eight who wore spectacles to correct their vision. 

Researchers studied the effects of using electronic glasses rather than patching to treat amblyopia. Photo: XpanD.

One group was patched for two hours daily, while the other wore occlusion glasses for four hours daily. During the study, the lens over the eye with better vision switched from clear to opaque every 30 seconds. The study found both groups gained two lines on a reading chart after three months to treatment.  

“When you talk to adults who had to do patch therapy as a child, they universally comment about how much they hated it, and with good reason,” said Daniel Neely, MD, a pediatric ophthalmology professor at Indiana University who led the study. With the electronic occlusion glasses, “the upside is, because the good eye is covered for only 30 seconds at a time, the child may be less distressed and more compliant with the treatment. Not only does this make it more ‘fun’ or tolerable, but it may improve outcomes if the compliance is better.”

While the study only involved children with moderate amblyopia (20/40 to 20/100), the researchers hope to study effects of the new treatment option on patients with worse amblyopia or those whose treatment had failed in the past. They also hope to explore the outcomes after shortening the treatment intervals, possibly making “the treatment even more tolerable with almost seamless transitions and limited impact on the child’s function at play and school,” Dr. Neely said.

The glasses used in the study, Amblyz occlusion glasses (XpanD), have been approved by the FDA as medical devices.