20 Jun What is Amblyopia?
Amblyopia is more commonly known as lazy eye. It is a common childhood eye condition. Amblyopia usually begins during infancy. If not corrected or seen to, the brain will learn to ignore the image that comes from that eye. If this happens, the vision in the affected eye will not develop like is should resulting in permanent harm to the child’s vision. When the brain receives one blurry image and one clear, it starts to ignore the blurry image. If allowed to go on, the affected eye will get worse.
As well as vision loss, amblyopia could also result in the loss of depth perception. Amblyopia usually affects only one eye but it may manifest with a reduction of vision in both eyes. Amblyopia will not go away on its own.
What causes Amblyopia?
Amblyopia is the most common cause of visual impairment among children. Amblyopia is normally a result of the two eyes having a greater difference between them than normal. Meaning that one eye is stronger than the other, like being better at focusing than the other or better with farsighted vision. Or it could be a result of one eye having lots of astigmatism, whereas the other one doesn’t.
Types of Amblyopia
Depending on the underlying cause of the amblyopia, it can be classified into three types.
- Strabismic amblyopia is the most common type of amblyopia, caused by the brain trying to avoid double vision caused by poorly aligned eyes. The brain ignores the visual input from the misaligned eye, leading to “lazy eye”.
- Anisometropic amblyopia is caused by unequal refractive errors in the two eyes, even if they have perfect eye alignment. This results in the brain relying on the eye that has the less uncorrected refractive error. Due to continued disuse of the one eye, amblyopia is developed.
- Deprivation amblyopia is lazy eye caused by something that obstructs light from entering and being focused in a baby’s eye, such as a congenital cataract. Prompt treatment of congenital cataracts is necessary to allow normal visual development to occur.
If you notice your baby or young child has crossed eyes or some other apparent eye misalignment, schedule an appointment for a children’s eye exam immediately. With early diagnosis and treatment, most children will gain vision. Amblyopia becomes much harder to treat after about 7-9 years of age.