Amblyopia is a condition that reduces vision in an eye that has not been used enough during early childhood. Double vision or blurred vision in one eye often causes the problem. About 2-4% of Americans have amblyopia. If not treated, an amblyopic eye may never develop good vision and may become functionally blind.
Amblyopia, also known as “lazy eye,” has many causes. Most often it results from a misalignment of a child’s eyes, such as crossed eyes. A difference in image quality between the two eyes (one eye has a clearer image than the other) can also lead to amblyopia. In either case, one eye becomes stronger and takes over the job of seeing while the other eye goes unused. If the condition continues, vision worsens in the unused eye. The eye becomes weaker and less capable of seeing. Early diagnosis and treatment can restore sight in the “lazy eye”. The earlier the treatment is started the better the chances of preventing or reversing the vision loss. Older children can sometimes be treated for amblyopia. For more information link to http://www.nei.nih.gov/ats3/ba...
If parents notice any of these signs, the child should have a professional comprehensive eye examination. Be aware that children with amblyopia often show no obvious signs of trouble.
In addition to treating amblyopia, the doctor must treat its underlying causes. These include misaligned eyes (strabismus) or unequal refractive errors (anisometropia).
To correct amblyopia, it is necessary to strengthen the vision in the poorer seeing eye. There are several ways to accomplish this.
Patients will need to visit the doctor regularly to measure improvement in the amblyopic eye. The greatest and quickest improvements will tend to occur in the younger children. Treatment however may be recommended even in older children with successful outcomes.
The preschool years are critical ones in the development of a child’s vision. By the age of six to seven vision may be completely developed.
Without treatment for amblyopia, the unused eye will lose vision, possibly leading to a permanent partial loss of sight. With early detection and treatment before the age of three, the chance for restoring vision is excellent: about 95 percent. After the age of six, however, the chances of succeed decline. By the age of nine or 10, the chances of correcting amblyopia are limited, although some children in their teens have experienced an improvement of vision loss.
At first, a child may feel frustrated while being treated for amblyopia. Proper treatment, along with supportive parents who understand the problem and show patience toward the child, usually result in successfully restoring vision.
Reproduced with permission and thanks to PREVENT BLINDNESS AMERICA®.
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