What is Amblyopia?
Amblyopia, also known as lazy eye, refers to an early childhood condition in which a child’s eyesight in one eye does not develop as it should.
In Amblyopia, the brain of the patient focuses on one eye more than the other, virtually ignoring the “lazy” eye. If that eye isn’t properly stimulated, the nerve cells that are responsible for the vision do not mature in a normal manner.
A child with the condition will not be able to focus properly with one of their eyes. This will lead to the other eye making up for the problem, so much so that as a result the affected eye suffers.
The eye with impaired vision will cease to receive clear images resulting in the brain not receiving clear data. The brain will eventually start to ignore the data from that eye.
In most cases, the stronger eye and the brain make up for the shortfall so well that the problem stays unnoticed by the child.
Amblyopia symptoms may include:
- Blurred vision
- Double vision
- Poor depth perception
- Eyes do not appear to work together
- An eye turn, either downward, upwards, inward, or outward.
Who is at Risk?
Amblyopia risk factors include:
- Premature birth
- Small size at birth
- Family history of Amblyopia
- Developmental disabilities
Amblyopia cause is related to developmental issues and problems in the brain. It happens because of the improper functioning of the nerve pathways in the brain that process sight. This condition or dysfunction occurs when both the eyes do not receive equal amounts of use.
Some several factors and conditions can lead to a person relying on one eye more than the other. These may include:
- Constant strabismus, or turning of one eye
- Genetics, or a family history of the condition
- Different levels of vision in each of the eyes
- Damage to one of the eyes from trauma
- Drooping of one of the eyelids
- Vitamin A deficiency
- Corneal ulcer or scar
- Eye surgery
- Vision impairment, such as farsightedness, nearsightedness, or astigmatism
How is Amblyopia Diagnosed?
Only one eye is usually affected by Amblyopia. Parents and children often do not notice the condition when it first occurs. Getting routine eye exams as an infant and child is very important, even if there are no outward symptoms of eye problems.
For an Amblyopia diagnosis, the doctor performs a standard eye exam to assess the vision in both the eyes of the child. This may involve a series of Amblyopia test including:
- Identifying shapes and letters on a chart
- Following a light with each eye and then with both the eyes
- Having a doctor look at your eyes with a magnifying glass
An Amblyopia doctor may also check the child’s vision clarity, eye muscle strength, and how well the eyes focus. They will look for a difference in vision between the eyes or a wandering eye.
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How is Amblyopia Treated?
The most effective Amblyopia cure is treating any underlying eye conditions. The patient may need to help the damaged eye develop normally. Early Amblyopia treatments are simple and may include contact lenses, eyeglasses, eye drops, eye patches, and vision therapy.
The earlier a person seeks treatment, the better is the outcome. However, it is still possible to treat and recover if Amblyopia is diagnosed when a patient is older.
- Glasses or contact lenses: Corrective glasses or contact lenses may be prescribed if the patient has Amblyopia because of having nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism.
- Eye patch: Covering the dominant eye by wearing an eye patch over it can help in strengthening the weaker eye. Depending on how severe the Amblyopia is, the doctor will suggest wearing the patch for 1 to 2 hours a day. Using the eye patch will help in developing the area of the brain that controls vision.
- Eye drops: To cloud the vision in the healthy eye, Amblyopia medicine such as eye drops may be used once or twice a day. Just like an eye patch, eye drops encourage the patient to use the weaker eye more. Eye drops are an alternative to wearing an eye patch.
- Surgery: In the case of patients with crossed eyes or eyes that point in opposite directions, the patient may require surgery on the muscles of the eye.
How can Amblyopia be Prevented?
Amblyopia can be prevented by early detection and treatment of astigmatism, cataracts, strabismus, and other vision problems.