Amblyopia is a vision disorder in which (usually) one eye does not achieve normal vision. This usually begins to occur in infancy or early childhood.
Most cases of lazy eye only occur in one eye, but in rare cases it can occur in both eyes. If caught and treated early enough, reduced vision can be avoided. However, if left untreated, vision in that eye can deteriorate and be severely damaged. The worst cases of amblyopia result in being considered legally blind in the affected eye(s).
There are a few causes of amblyopia, with the most common being Strabismic Amblyopia. Strabismic amblyopia is when the brain ignores visual input from the misaligned eye to avoid double vision.
Amblyopia can be caused from unequal refractive errors in the eyes. This is called Refractive Amblyopia. If there is a severe enough visual issue with one eye that goes uncorrected (nearsightedness, for example) it can cause refractive amblyopia even if there is perfect alignment in the eyes. The brain ignores the visual cues from the “problem” eye, which then causes it to go “lazy”.
With the same principle as refractive amblyopia there is Deprivation Amblyopia. This occurs when something obstructs light from entering and being focused, such as a congenital cataract.
Some signs that a child may be affected by amblyopia are:
If you think your child has some signs of amblyopia there are some simple at home tests that can be done. Try this simple test:
This is just that a simple test to help you self diagnose, but the best and recommended way to diagnose amblyopia is to set up an exam with an Optometrist.
There are many treatments for correcting amblyopia. Corrective lenses and contact lenses can restore vision if it is refractive amblyopia. Vision therapy is another effective treatment that employs eye patching, exercises, and special tests (performed by the Optometrist).
Correcting strabismic amblyopia is a little harder on the patient. In order to correct strabismic amblyopia, one needs to undergo strabismus surgery to straighten the eyes. After surgery they then have to go through vision therapy while their eyes rehabilitate.