Amblyopia

Amblyopia is a condition that occurs in children when vision has not developed properly in each eye. If amblyopia is left untreated, a child’s vision will not develop correctly. The child’s brain, as it matures, will start “ignoring” the image coming from the bad eye. This causes vision in the affected eye to become poor. Because amblyopia can result in permanent vision loss in one eye, it is important to have a child with amblyopia regularly tested by an eye doctor.

WHAT ARE THE CAUSES?

Amblyopia usually starts when one eye has much better focus than the other eye. For example, one eye might be very nearsighted or have a lot of astigmatism, while the other does not. When the child’s brain is confronted with both a blurry image and a clear image, it will begin to ignore the blurry image. If this goes on for months or years, the vision in the eye that sees the blurry image will deteriorate.

Another cause of amblyopia is strabismus. Strabismus is an ocular misalignment, meaning that one eye turns inward or outward. This prevents the eyes from focusing together on an image and can cause double vision. In order to combat this, the child’s brain generally chooses to ignore the image from the deviated eye, causing the vision in that eye to deteriorate. Because one of the eyes is misaligned, some people refer to this as a “lazy eye.”

RISK FACTORS

Family history of amblyopia is a risk factor for amblyopia. Parents cannot tell just by looking at their child if they have amblyopia. Early diagnosis and treatment are the keys to the best visual outcome.

TREATMENT & SURGERY

The most common treatment for amblyopia is to force the brain to start using the “bad” eye by putting a patch over the “good” eye. At first, the child will have a hard time seeing with just the weaker eye. However, it is very important that your child wear the patch diligently because this will eventually improve vision. It can take weeks or months for an eye patch to improve vision.