What is Amblyopia?
Amblyopia, sometimes referred to as "lazy eye", is decreased vision in one or both eyes due to abnormal development of vision in infancy or childhood. In amblyopia, there may not be an obvious problem of the eye. Vision loss occurs because nerve pathways between the brain and the eye aren't properly stimulated. The brain “learns” to see only blurry images with the amblyopic eye even when glasses are used. As a result, the brain favors one eye, usually due to poor vision in the other eye. It is the leading cause of vision loss amongst children, and must be diagnosed and treated as early as possible during infancy or early childhood to prevent permanent vision loss and to allow for development of optimal stereo or 3-dimensional vision. After the age of approximately 6 to 9 years, diagnosis and/or treatment may no longer result in vision improvement.
What are the symptoms of Amblyopia?
- Decreased vision in one or both eyes
- Strabismus (misaligned eyes)
- Poor depth perception
The symptoms described above may not necessarily mean that your child has amblyopia. However, if you observe one or more of these symptoms, contact your child's ophthalmologist for a complete exam.
How do we treat Amblyopia?
One of the most important treatments of amblyopia is correcting the refractive error with consistent use of glasses and/or contact lenses. Other mainstays of amblyopia treatment are to enable as clear an image as possible (for example, by removing a cataract), and forcing the child to use the weaker eye (via patching or eye drops to blur the better-seeing eye).