What You Need to Know
Amblyopia, also known as lazy eye, is an eye condition caused by underdeveloped pathways between the eye and the brain. Amblyopia usually only affects one eye, but can occasionally affect both eyes. Most of the time, the eye has a normal structural anatomy but a defective pathway; the brain ignores the images from the lazy eyes. If amblyopia is detected early in life, it can be corrected. However, if amblyopia is treated too late, the brain will become accustomed to ignoring visual inputs from the eyes leading to decreased vision in the lazy eye.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
If your child or infant has amblyopia, you may notice that he/she has crossed eyes (also known as strabismus) or cries without explanation when one eye is covered. Strabismus is a prevalent cause of amblyopia so if you notice any signs, schedule an appointment with an eye doctor for further evaluation. Other symptoms of amblyopia, most common in older children and adults, include double vision, poor depth perception, squinting or shutting one eye when reading, or tilting the head to one side.
How Is Amblyopia Treated?
Amblyopia can be treated by using eye patches or by instilling topical atropine into the eyes. Eye patches are usually worn on the dominant eye. Wearing an eye patch on the dominant eye ensures that the lazy eye is forced to function so a pathway from the eye to the brain can be formed. Initially, your child may complain of difficulty in seeing, but as time goes by the lazy eye will adjust, and vision will improve. It is important that your child wear his/her patch because not treating amblyopia young can lead to lifelong vision problems. Topical atropine is usually prescribed in the form of eye drops. Atropine is the treatment modality of choice in mild cases of amblyopia. Atropine dilated the eye therefore blurring the vision in the good eye forcing the lazy eye to compensate for sight. Glasses and surgeries can be used to correct underlying eye conditions that led to amblyopia. Glasses are usually prescribed as a treatment option for amblyopia when the underlying cause is a refractive error (a condition where one eye sees images more clearly than the other eye). These glasses help the lazy eye view images better, and the brain is forced to receive the correct visual input from the lazy eye. Eventually, the brain gets familiarized with using both eyes, and normal vision develops. Correcting these eye defects will subsequently lead to correction of lazy eyes. Surgery is indicated for people who have strabismus or cataract as the underlying cause of amblyopia. However, even after surgery an eye patch may be necessary. Call to make an appointment today if you are concerned about amblyopia.