Amblyopia, better known as lazy eye, is an eye condition where children have good or perfect vision in one eye and decreased vision in the other.
With one eye having better vision than the other, the brain starts to depend on the better eye and neglects the weaker one. Untreated lazy eye conditions may cause the brain to ignore any images it gets from the weaker eye in the long run. This may have an adverse impact on the child’s vision.
Many factors give rise to amblyopia. Eyes with amblyopia usually have some form of refractive error like astigmatism or myopia. Amblyopia can also be due to conditions like childhood cataracts that obstruct your child’s vision. Strabismus, or squinting, can also lead to amblyopia because the child’s eyes do not look in the same direction as they are not aligned.
Factors linked to a greater risk of amblyopia include:
Premature birth increases the risks of a lazy eye.
Unfortunately, amblyopia may be challenging to detect at first because most children suffering from lazy eyes will not realize they have vision problems and thus do not voice their concerns out. The brain and the eye with better vision would compensate for the reduced vision in the other eye so well that it masks the amblyopia. Alternatively, the child may get used to having good vision in only one eye. Children who have well-aligned eyes may not have their amblyopia noticeable.
What To Detect
If you notice your child squinting frequently, complaining of double or blurry vision, having crossed eyes, or tilting the head for better vision, your child may have lazy eyes. Compromised depth perception and problems with 3-dimensional viewing may be other indicators of amblyopia. Go for regular and timely eye check ups to detect amblyopia. Children should have their first eye check at 6 months old and at least once between the ages of 2 and 5 years. Above the age of 5, children who do not require glasses should go for an eye check every 2 years and for children who do wear glasses, once every year.
An eye patch can be used to treat lazy eyes. (Source: Florida Eyecare Associates)
Eye patches (to be worn for weeks or months at a time) that cover the good eye for some hours during the day so that the child has no other choice but to use the worse eye are useful aids to treat amblyopia. Your eye care professional will be able to determine the best course of treatment for amblyopia for your child. Children who were treated at an earlier age (six years or younger) enjoy greater success with their amblyopia treatment. This shows the importance of early detection for a better chance of total recovery. Regular eye check ups are vital in detecting amblyopia in your child’s eyes.
Mayo Clinic. 2022. Lazy eye (amblyopia) – Symptoms and causes. [online] Available at: <https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/lazy-eye/symptoms-causes/syc-20352391#:~:text=Lazy%20eye%20(amblyopia)%20is%20reduced,of%20decreased%20vision%20among%20children.> [Accessed 7 March 2022].
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