Purpose To evaluate the short-term effectiveness of overminus spectacles in improving control of childhood intermittent exotropia (IXT). Design Randomized, clinical trial. Participants A total of 58 children aged 3 to <7 years with IXT. Eligibility criteria included a distance control score of 2 or worse (mean of 3 measures during a single examination) on a scale of 0 (exophoria) to 5 (constant exotropia) and spherical equivalent refractive error between −6.00 diopters (D) and +1.00 D. Methods Children were randomly assigned to overminus spectacles (−2.50 D over cycloplegic refraction) or observation (non-overminus spectacles if needed or no spectacles) for 8 weeks. Main Outcome Measures The primary outcome was distance control score for each child (mean of 3 measures during a single examination) assessed by a masked examiner at 8 weeks. Outcome testing was conducted with children wearing their study spectacles or plano spectacles for the children in the observation group who did not need spectacles. The primary analysis compared mean 8-week distance control score between treatment groups using an analysis of covariance model that adjusted for baseline distance control, baseline near control, prestudy spectacle wear, and prior IXT treatment. Treatment side effects were evaluated using questionnaires completed by parents. Results At 8 weeks, mean distance control was better in the 27 children treated with overminus spectacles than in the 31 children who were observed without treatment (2.0 vs. 2.8 points, adjusted difference = −0.75 points favoring the overminus group; 2-sided 95% confidence interval, −1.42 to −0.07 points). Side effects of headaches, eyestrain, avoidance of near activities, and blur appeared similar between treatment groups. Conclusions In a pilot randomized clinical trial, overminus spectacles improved distance control at 8 weeks in children aged 3 to <7 years with IXT. A larger and longer randomized trial is warranted to assess the effectiveness of overminus spectacles in treating IXT, particularly the effect on control after overminus treatment has been discontinued.
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