Amblyopia is decreased vision in one or both eyes due to abnormal development of vision in infancy or childhood. Amblyopia 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. Another word for amblyopia is often “lazy eye.” It is the leading cause of vision loss amongst children.
What Causes Amblyopia
Amblyopia usually starts when one eye has much better focus than the other. Sometimes, one is more farsighted or has lots of astigmatism, but the other doesn’t. When your child’s brain gets both a blurry image and a clear one, it starts to ignore the blurry one. If this goes on for months or years in a young child, vision in the blurry eye will get worse.
Sometimes a child’s eyes don’t line up like they should. One could turn in or out. The doctor will call this strabismus, and it can also lead to amblyopia. Kids who have it can’t focus their eyes together on an image, so they often see double.
How Is Amblyopia Diagnosed?
All children should be tested before they are school-age. Your child’s doctor or the vision program at school will check to make sure that:
Nothing blocks the light coming into her eyes.
Both eyes see equally well.
Each eye moves like it should.
Goals of Amblyopia Treatment
The Amblyopia Treatment goal is the best possible vision in each eye and use of the eye simultaneously (binocular vision). While not every child can improve to 20/20, most can obtain a substantial improvement in vision. Realistic goals depend on the age of the child and the level of vision when the amblyopia is diagnosed.
Vision usually improves within a few weeks but optimal results may take several months to a few years and depends on the visual acuity and age of diagnosis and treatment. Once vision has been maximized, maintenance treatment until, for example, age 9-10 years may be required to keep the vision from regressing.
One of the most important treatments of amblyopia is correcting the refractive error with consistent use of glasses and/or contact lenses .Early treatment is always best. If necessary, children with refractive errors (nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism) can wear glasses or contact lenses when they are as young as one week old. Children with cataracts or other “amblyogenic” conditions are usually treated promptly in order to minimize the development of amblyopia.