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What is Amblyopia?

Amblyopia (lazy eye) is a vision disorder that impairs the ability to see clearly with both eyes. It usually appears when a kid is an infant or very young, and if left untreated, it can worsen over time. As their brain focuses more on their stronger eye, the vision of their weaker eye deteriorates over time. 

A child with amblyopia has blurry vision in one eye and clear vision in the other. Their brain begins to ignore their blurry eye and only use the clear-vision eye for seeing. Amblyopia is a significant medical condition that requires the attention of an eye care specialist.

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What causes amblyopia (lazy eye)?

Amblyopia occurs when there is a difference between your child’s eyes and how they focus on the objects they see. Other vision difficulties or structural issues with their eyes are the most common causes of amblyopia, including:

1. Refractive errors

A refractive error is something about your eyes’ natural structure or ability to focus that causes your vision to blur. Refractive errors in children that cause amblyopia include:

  • Nearsightedness (myopia) — inability to view distant objects.
  • Farsightedness (hyperopia) — difficulty seeing close-up objects.
  • Astigmatism (the presence of an oval-shaped cornea).

2. Strabismus

Strabismus (crossed eyes) occurs when your eyes do not line up properly. Your eyes normally move at the same time.

3. Structural eye conditions

Any condition that affects how your child’s eyes operate can produce fuzzy vision and eventually lead to amblyopia, such as:

  • Droopy eyelids (ptosis)
  • Cataracts
  • Issues with their cornea 

Symptoms

The following are signs and symptoms of lazy eye:

  • An eye that wanders inward or outward
  • Eyes that appear to not work together
  • Poor depth perception
  • Squinting or shutting an eye
  • Head tilting
  • Abnormal results of vision screening tests

Amblyopia (lazy eye) risk factors

Amblyopia can affect any child.  Some factors make children more likely to experience amblyopia, including:

  • Having biological blood relatives with eye and vision difficulties
  • Developmental delays.
  • Premature birth (born before 37 weeks of pregnancy).
  • Low birth weight (born weighing under 5 pounds, 8 ounces, or 2,500 grams).

Diagnosis

Your doctor will examine your eyes for eye health, a wandering eye, a difference in vision between the eyes, or poor vision in both eyes. Eye Drops are commonly used to dilate the pupils. The eyedrops produce blurred vision for several hours or perhaps a day.

The method used to test your child’s vision is determined by his or her age and developmental stage:

  • Preverbal children – Cataracts can be detected using bright magnifying equipment. Other tests can evaluate an infant’s or toddler’s ability to maintain his or her focus and follow a moving item.
  • Children age 3 and older – The child’s vision can be assessed using tests that use pictures or letters. One eye is covered at a time to test the other.
Know all about Amblyopia (Lazy Eye):

Treatment

Treatment includes:

  • Glasses – If a child has nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism, a doctor will prescribe glasses.
  • Cataract surgery, or phacoemulsification – Cataract surgery, also known as phacoemulsification, is a surgical procedure that removes a cataract under either local or total anesthesia.
  • Correcting droopy eyelids – Amblyopia in some persons is caused by an eyelid that restricts the view of the weaker eye. In this scenario, surgery to elevate the eyelid is the standard treatment.
  • Occlusion, or using a patch – A doctor will put a patch over the stronger eye, forcing the lazy eye to work.
  • Atropine eye drops – These may be used by doctors to blur vision in the unaffected eye. Atropine dilates the pupil, causing blurry vision when gazing at items up close. 
  • Vision exercises – Various activities and games have been created to help with vision development in the child’s damaged eye.
  • Surgery – Doctors may conduct eye surgery to correct the look of an eye turn, resulting in better eye alignment. Source

Diet

Prevention

  • Participate in activities that require eye-hand coordination.
  • Reduce irritability
  • Consider using a patch that may be attached to your spectacles.
  • Wash the area surrounding the eye with water to remove any remaining irritants after the patch is removed. Source

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