The oldest treatment for amblyopia is patching. An eye patch is placed over the good eye in the hopes that the weak eye will be forced to "work" and improve its function.
Wonderful research by Stewart, Stephens and Fielder has shown that covering the non-amblyopic eye for three to six hours per day, while at home and engaging in specific fine-motor activities is more effective than patching for six hours or more. Earlier Blogs in VisionHelp regarding amblyopia have discussed how Bangerter Occluders and the use of binocular fusion therapy further augment the therapeutic result of part time, directed patching.
Treatment with patching alone is based on an out-of-date understanding of amblyopia. By focusing on one eye, it ignores the fact that amblyopia is a binocular vision problem and a treatment approach such as vision therapy that focuses on how both eyes work together is much more effective. A study published in the September 2010 issue of the journal Optometry & Vision Science should be required reading for every amblyopia patient (or their parents):
amblyopia is an intrinsically binocular problem and not the monocular problem on which current patching treatment is predicated. Thought of in this way, the binocular problem involving suppression should be tackled at the very outset if one is to achieve a good binocular outcome as opposed to hoping binocular vision will be regained simply as a consequence of acuity recovery in the amblyopic eye, which is the current approach and which is often not found to be the case.