Amblyopia (Lazy Eye)
is a childhood condition where the vision in one or both eyes does not develop properly. The amblyopic eye has a poorer vision in relation to the healthy eye even with glasses or contact lenses correction. In most cases, only one eye is affected. But in some cases, amblyopia can occur in both eyes.
What Are The Causes Of Amblyopia?
A significant difference in refractive error (short-sightedness, long-sightedness, or astigmatism) between both eyes that is left uncorrected for a protracted period of time during childhood is the most common cause of lazy eye. When the brain receives both a blurry image and a clear one, it starts to ignore the blurry one. As time goes by, the brain starts to ignore or neglect the poorer eye resulting in decreased vision that cannot be corrected.
Another common cause of amblyopia is strabismus. Strabismus, commonly known as squint is a misalignment of the eyes when one eye turns in or out, up or down. People with strabismus struggle to focus on one image. As a result, the brain ignores the image from the eye with the squint which becomes the lazy eye.
Besides, amblyopia can be caused by an obstacle that blocks visual stimulation. This could be droopy eyelids or cataracts, a clouding of the clear lens in the eye. Amblyopia might resolve or persist even after the removal of the obstacle.
What Are The Signs I Should Look For?
- Head tilting
- Squinting or shutting one eye
- An eye that turns inward or outward
(This is usually noticeable when the child is tired or is staring at something）
- Poor hand to eye coordination
- Blurry vision
- Double vision
What Are The Treatments Available?
Early diagnosis and intervention are crucial for a good visual prognosis. It is quite difficult to treat amblyopia if the child’s eye has fully developed. Amblyopia is most responsive to treatment among children younger than the age of 7. However, it is still possible to significantly improve the vision in the weaker eye with proper treatments.
The treatment usually depends on the cause of amblyopia. Prescription glasses are one of the most common treatment options for refractive amblyopia. The kids are advised to wear the glasses full time in order to stimulate the amblyopic eye. The vision in the amblyopic eye may improve over time. If the glasses alone do not correct the sight, further treatment is required. Patching is an alternative treatment option that is done in addition to wearing the glasses. A sticky patch is used to cover the better eye in order to force the amblyopic eye to work. This is a gradual process that takes many months to work. However, this treatment is often effective for kids.
What To Do Next?
Early intervention is key. Finding suitable treatment for the eye, maintaining good compliance to the therapy and regular monitoring are keys to achieving successful results. If the treatment of amblyopia is not given as soon as possible, the vision in the eye may be permanently impaired.