Amblyopia Research

Professor Irene Gottlob, Ophthalmology, Department of Neuroscience, Psychology & Behaviour, University of Leicester

Amblyopia (or lazy eye) is the most common visual disease in childhood affecting an estimated 2 to 5% of the population. Amblyopia is caused by unequal inputs from the two eyes during visual development in childhood, usually either because of an eye turn (strabismus), a difference in refractive properties of the two eyes (anisometropia), or a combination of both. The visual deficits in amblyopia are really due to disrupted development of the visual brain areas. It can be treated by patching the stronger and with glasses to improve refractive problems. Treatment of amblyopia accounts for approximately 90% of visits to children’s’ eye clinics.

Exploring Reasons for Poor Outcomes for Amblyopia Treatment

We have developed electronic monitors in collaboration with the Medical Physics department in Leicester to measure adherence to patching treatment in amblyopia. We found that adherence is variable and often poor (Awan et al., 2005) which explains the prolonged treatment times and poor outcomes we have observed (Awan et al., 2010). More recently we have developed electronic monitors to measure glasses wearing for the first time. We find that adherence is variable and outcomes of treatment are suboptimal.

Improving Adherence and Optimising Treatment for Amblyopia

We used feedback from parents and children to develop an educational / motivational intervention pack to improve amblyopia treatment (Pradeep et al., 2014). The pack contains a story book for children with illustrations of treatment of an amblyopic boy where the eyes are represented as two characters “Ra Ra” and “La La” speaking to each other. The pack also contains information booklets for parents, children, teachers, family and friends about amblyopia, its treatment and common misconceptions as well as other motivational elements such as an “amblyopia passport” and reward stickers for the children.
We are also looking at the effect of using electronic monitors to feedback to the parents and children how well they are doing.
We are currently running a large clinical trial into the role of glasses wearing in amblyopia (funded by Action Medical Research). It is a multicentre study involving centres in Austria, Germany, Switzerland as well as around the UK.

Effect of Amblyopia on Reading

We have investigated the effect of amblyopia on reading using eye movement recordings and find that there are often subclinical deficits present for example when reading with both eyes open or the non-amblyopic eye open (Kanonidou et al., 2010, 2014).


Nystagmus Research

Ophthalmology Research at Leicester

About Professor Irene Gottlob

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Department of Neuroscience, Psychology and Behaviour
University of Leicester
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