Amblyopia (lazy eye)

What is amblyopia?
Amblyopia is when there is poor vision in one eye due to lack of normal visual development and despite the eye still being physically healthy.

What causes amblyopia?
Amblyopia develops when the eyes are unable to work together. The distribution of information going from the eye to the brain is not equal. This can occur with strabismus (a misalignment of the eyes), or extremely high amounts of myopia, hyperopia or astigmatism in one eye. It can be also be due to any interference within the eye, such as a cataract.

Who develops amblyopia?
Amblyopia most likely occurs from poor early visual development. It is important for the neural connections between the eye and the brain to develop before the age of 5 to 6 years old. After that period of time, it is very difficult to develop those pathways. It is very uncommon for adults to develop amblyopia. It is estimated that 2-4% of children have amblyopia.

Signs/Symptoms
The child may close or squint with the amblyopic eye and may even bump into objects on the affected side. It is difficult to see if the child has amblyopia, because the child will primarily use the non-amblyopic eye for visual tasks. It is important to make sure that the child has an eye exam with an optometrist before the age of 3.

Treatment
Corrective lenses, contact lenses, prisms and/or vision therapy can be used to treat amblyopia. One vision therapy treatment involves patching the good eye so that the amblyopic eye is forced to work with the brain, stimulating connections between eye and brain, therefore improving vision. If patching is not tolerated well, or vision does not improve, there are other vision therapy treatments that can be tried.

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