Amblyopia is a childhood eye problem that causes poor vision in children. Amblyopia is one of the important causes of decreased vision amongst children. Amblyopia is commonly called as Lazy Eye. Generally, the brain and eye work jointly to generate vision. In amblyopia, brain favors one of the eyes and might neglect the signals coming from the other eye. The neglected or weaker eye tends to drift outward or inward.
According to the National Eye Institute, out of 100 children, 2-3 are affected. Lazy eye condition is generally diagnosed during infancy. Traditional treatments for lazy eye or amblyopia include eye patches or corrective eyewear. Sometimes, surgery is also required for treatment of the lazy eye.
Causes of Amblyopia
Generally all newborn offspring are born with poor eye vision. But as they grow their vision improves. For good eyesight, a focused and clear image should be formed in both the eyes. But sometimes the image so formed either is not clear in one of the eyes or the image is not same in both the eyes. Such conditions result in poor development of the vision pathway. Any one of the above conditions, which might blur the vision can cause lazy eye or amblyopia.
Other childhood eye conditions, which can cause amblyopia, are droopy eyelids, wandering eyes, strabismus or crossed eyes, and cataract. Structural or anatomic abnormality like cloudiness in the eye lens or abnormality in the central retina may also cause lazy eye or amblyopia. Sometimes difference in the eye size or abnormal eye shape also contribute to amblyopia or lazy eye.
Generally it is seen that lazy eye disorder has a family history. Premature babies are more prone to have lazy eye. Babies with delayed development may also develop this condition. If lazy eye is left untreated it may lead to premature but permanent vision loss. With the help of thorough eye examination lazy eye condition can be diagnosed. The ophthalmologist usually looks for poor sight in both eyes, variation in vision between both the eyes and wandering eyes. Usually no special diagnostic tests are required for detection of the lazy eye condition.
Preferably, the treatment should start in early childhood when the complex links between the brain and the eye are developing. According to the cause and the extent to which the child’s sight is affected, healing options may consist of:
Doctor may prescribe contact lenses or corrective glasses to treat lazy eyes if conditions like farsightedness, astigmatism or nearsightedness are contributing to amblyopia or lazy eye.
Affected child may be asked to wear an eye patch to stimulate the neglected or weaker eye. These eye patches help the brain to manage vision development of the weaker eye completely.
Eye drops of atropine drug daily or twice weekly blurs the vision of stronger eye temporarily. In this way use of weaker eye is enhanced hence improves the vision.
Surgery: Some conditions like crossed eyes, cataracts and outwardly deviated or droopy eyelids may require a surgical repair.
Research shows that early treatment of amblyopia results in better vision improvement. Most of the affected children improve vision within a few weeks of proper treatment. Generally treatment lasts till the vision becomes normal.
Lazy eye condition can indeed cause problems. To learn about effective exercises to cure it, please read our related article Lazy Eye Exercises for Adults