For decades, physicians have treated amblyopia — poor childhood vision development in one or both eyes – with patches. Kids often dislike those, because they can be uncomfortable or lead to teasing. Now there’s a new, equally effective alternative. The FDA approved CureSight last fall to treat amblyopia by online monitoring of streamed data combined with visits to the eye doctor.
How Does Amblyopia Develop?
Amblyopia, sometimes misleadingly called “lazy eye,” occurs in up to four percent of children. It usually develops in one eye, and the vision in that eye is found to be behind and not correctable with glasses to 20/20.
It occurs most often when one eye is blurred more significantly from an uncorrected refractive error/need for glasses. The other common cause for this is misalignment of the eyes, i.e. one eye crossing in. But anything causing blur in one eye, such as a pediatric cataract, optic nerve or retinal disease, can lead to amblyopia. The condition should be diagnosed by age 8 for treatment to be most effective, though recent studies indicate that older children may benefit. Amblyopia can set in at any age up to around 8.
Traditional treatment has involved glasses and patching of the eye that sees better, to force the weaker eye to process more information. Children with significant farsightedness may also be treated with a long-acting, dilating drop in the better eye. Left untreated, amblyopia can lead to permanent vision loss in one eye; it’s the most common cause of vision loss in kids.
The minimum amount needed for improvement with a patch is two hours every day, but parents often find that kids won’t comply. And forcing a child to use the eye that does not see well, even with glasses on, can be traumatic.
CureSight Changes the Game
Now the Israeli-based company NovaSight has developed CureSight. It was developed with the input of several well-known pediatric ophthalmologists. This technology involves computer hardware that sends videos with centrally blurred areas to the stronger eye and completely clear videos to the weaker. This stimulates the “lazy eye” to process fine details, developing stereoacuity to give the patient proper binocular vision.
The child can watch any kind of streaming video over hardware the company provides, wearing a pair of glasses with colored lenses – one blue, one red – also provided by NovaSight. By tracking the gaze position of both eyes in real-time, CureSight monitors the patient and reports results to eye care providers. The clinical team at the CureSight Monitoring Center tracks compliance, provides remote training and technical support, and calls the patient’s guardians to encourage compliance if needed.
How Well Does CureSight Work?
The Journal of Ophthalmology recently published a peer-reviewed study that showed this treatment performed as well as patching for children 4 to 9 years old, assuming they used the equipment for 90 minutes a day, five days a week. And the compliance level was a remarkable 93 percent, because kids used the equipment at home and spent their time whatever streaming video they choose.
Eye doctors combine monthly patient reports with regular office visits to track progress. This may sound potentially expensive, but insurance usually covers all aspects of CureSight: Receiving the equipment, sending monthly data to the doctor, getting equipment back after treatment has ended. Families generally have only co-pays for office visits – and those cool red-and-blue glasses are yours to keep.
To schedule a pediatrics consultation at Horizon Eye Care, call 704-365-0555 Monday-Thursday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., or Friday, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. The optical department closes on Fridays at 2:30 p.m.