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July 2011

Unfair Comparison of In-Office Acupuncture vs At-Home Patching for Amblyopia

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliation: Comprehensive Eye Care Professionals, New Brunswick, New Jersey.

Arch Ophthalmol. 2011;129(7):963-964. doi:10.1001/archophthalmol.2011.156

Five office visits per week for acupuncture is fairly intense, especially compared with the passive treatment in the other group, which consisted of having the parents struggle with the child at home to keep the patch on his or her good eye for 2 hours per day.

As Zhao et al1 acknowledge, it would have been useful to perform “placebo” acupuncture on the patching group to eliminate the Hawthorne effect—the fact that many problems tend to get better when they receive intensive positive attention. It wouldn't be surprising if the children in the acupuncture group actually performed the daily at-home near-vision activities and wore their spectacle correction more conscientiously owing to greater positive reinforcement during the daily acupuncture sessions.

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