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Amblyopia (Lazy Eye)

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About Amblyopia (Lazy Eye)

Known commonly as “lazy eye”, amblyopia is a vision development disorder that usually begins during infancy. It is somewhat common, with approximately 3% of Americans having some degree of amblyopia.

In most cases amblyopia only affects one eye, though rarely it can occur in both.

Amblyopia can usually be corrected assuming that it is managed and treated early. However, if left untreated, amblyopia can lead to serious visual problems, including double vision, and may even result in blindness.

It is important that every child have their first eye exam at six months of age, again when they are age three, and again before they enter kindergarten. Book an eye exam for your child.

What Causes Amblyopia?

There are three causes of amblyopia:

  • Strabismus amblyopia – This is when strabismus is the cause of amblyopia and is the most common type of amblyopia in the United States. The brain ignores the sensory information coming from the misaligned eye.
  • Refractive amblyopia – When both eyes have refractive errors, refractive amblyopia can occur. In effect, the brain chooses whichever eye has the strongest sight and ignores the sensory information from the weaker eye. This can occur despite both eyes being in alignment.
  • Deprivation amblyopia – This occurs when light is completely obstructed from entering the eye, depriving the brain of visual input from it. This is usually caused by a congenital cataract. The cause of the visual deprivation must be addressed before the amblyopia can be corrected.

Signs & Symptoms of Amblyopia

Most kids have a hard time explaining their vision to adults, especially if the concern that the adults are trying to diagnose is something the child has lived with since birth- they simply may not know any better.

The best and most effective way to monitor your child’s eye health is via regular eye exams.

Symptoms of Amblyopia

  • Crossed eyes, or eyes out of alignment (indicating potential strabismic amblyopia)
  • Preference of the child to use their “good eye”, such as leaning in toward one eye when reading, using a computer, or watching TV
  • Squinting or covering an eye
  • Poor depth perception and spatial skills

Treating Amblyopia

When treating amblyopia, early detection and treatment are extremely important. There is no substitute for a comprehensive eye exam.

The American Optometric Association recommends that kids have their first eye exam at six months, another at age three, and another prior to entering school. Following this schedule, any vision challenges should be well-documented and addressed by the time the child enters school.

Vision therapy is a common treatment for amblyopia in both kids and adults. Vision therapy uses various tools and exercises to strengthen the weaker eye and to train your mind to properly use it.

Treating Strabismic Amblyopia

Amblyopia caused by strabismus is often treated with strabismus surgery, which properly aligns the eye. Following surgery, vision therapy is used to teach the eyes to work together.