What Is Amblyopia? (Lazy Eye)

Amblyopia is a common childhood vision problem affecting up to 3% of children, and if untreated can lead to long-lasting vision problems. Fortunately, amblyopia is correctable in the vast majority of cases, with early detection and treatment being the key.

Often referred to as ‘lazy eye’, this condition occurs when one eye is stronger than the other, and the child’s brain develops a dominant connection to the strong eye and does not fully develop the vision center in the brain that processes information from the weaker eye. While amblyopia may occur in any child, those with a family history of eye conditions or other developmental disabilities, as well as premature and small babies, are more statistically likely to be affected.

How a Screening Can Help

It is important for all children to have an eye exam starting at age 1 and every year thereafter. If parents or caregivers notice signs that their child is struggling to see clearly, eye care professionals should be contacted immediately. Some of the symptoms to be aware of are poor depth perception, squinting, shutting one eye, clumsiness, avoidance of physical activities, or tilting of the head in order to focus on an object. Some children with amblyopia will bring an object extremely close to their face in order to examine it. If any of these behaviors are detected or even suspected at any age, a call to your eye care professional is in order.

Treatment by Type

There are different types of amblyopia, and different treatment modalities to treat each situation.  Treatment may range from a simple bandage eye patch, to eye drops, glasses, and in a small percentage of cases, surgery. Regardless of treatment, the goal is always the same: to achieve optimum vision at as early an age as possible. While it is not always possible to achieve 20/20 vision, amblyopia is usually successfully treated if the condition is detected early and intervention is prompt.

Equalizing the Strength of the Eyes

All infants are born with poor vision. As the developmental process takes place, the pathways from the eye to the brain develop, and eyesight normally improves and is very good by even 6 months of age. In children with amblyopia, one eye becomes significantly more dominant than the other, and the ability of the brain to process and interpret data from the weak eye does not properly develop. Patching, along with appropriate vision correction, is a common treatment that encourages the brain to use the weaker eye, by forcing the brain to develop the necessary acuity, thereby equalizing the strength of the eyes. If there are concurrent vision problems, glasses are often prescribed. Your healthcare professional will match the treatment to the condition for maximum effectiveness.

Consult Complete Eye Care of Medina

Good vision facilitates learning and social development, as well as success in life. Children promptly treated for amblyopia have an excellent prognosis, resulting in normal vision and development. Your children deserve good vision. Schedule your appointment with eye care experts if you have any doubts about your child’s vision. Call us at 763-478-3505 or visit us online at completeeyecareofmedina.com to schedule your exam.