By Dr. Susan Wong
A lazy eye is an eye that has reduced vision, also referred to as amblyopia. It results from poorly developed vision during childhood. It often affects one eye, but both eyes can also be ambylopic. Early diagnosis and treatment is important. If amblyopia goes untreated, vision will remain reduced and cannot be improved.
What causes amblyopia?
Common causes of amblyopia are strabismus, refractive error and cataracts.
- Strabismus is a condition where the eyes are misaligned and therefore, do not look in the same direction. It is also known as an eye turn or crossed eyes. When the eyes are looking in different directions, the brain may ignore one eye to prevent seeing double. This can result in an eye with poorly developed vision.
- Refractive error can mean farsightedness, nearsightedness and/or astigmatism. When one eye has more refractive error than the other, it will see a blurry image. The brain ignores this blurry image and which can lead to reduced vision.
- A cataract is a cloudy lens inside the eye. This obstructs vision and prevents the eye from seeing clearly. This can cause the brain to suppress the image seen in the affected eye and result in poorly developed vision.
How can we detect amblyopia?
An eye exam by an optometrist can detect amblyopia. Full eye exams for children are recommended at 6 months of age. Children should be seen routinely to monitor for any changes to their vision, refractive error, eye alignment, eye health, etc.
How is amblyopia treated?
The eye condition causing the reduced vision would need to be treated. This could include removing cataracts, glasses to correct refractive error, surgery to align the eyes, etc.
It is also important to use the weaker eye. This can be done, for example, by patching the better eye so that the weaker eye is doing the work. With treatment, the vision should improve in the weaker eye over time.
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*Adapted from the American Academy of Ophthalmology
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.
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