Amblyopia (lazy eye)
Amblyopia, also called “lazy eye,” is an eye
condition which develops in early childhood. For a number of reasons,
the images from one eye (or in rare cases, both eyes) will be “ignored”
by the brain. If this is left untreated, especially during the early
vision development period in one’s life (until around age nine), these
neurological pathways will become permanent, resulting in a lifetime of
reduced vision. Having one amblyopic eye also puts added strain on the
dominant eye, in which case future eye disorders are more likely.
Amblyopia symptoms may include:
Squinting or closing one eye to see things.
Poor depth perception and contrast perception.
Poor visual acuity in general.
Amblyopia is often difficult to diagnose in
children, since they often don’t know they have a vision problem. A
doctor usually tests for the condition by blocking each eye and
observing the patient’s response to visual tests. Amblyopic patients
will often tend to do poorly on three-dimensional image tests.
Several conditions lead to Amblyopia:
Strabismus (crossed eye): A condition
where the eyes are misaligned, and do not gaze at exactly the same
target. A child’s brain will adapt, and learn to ignore the image from
the crooked eye, to prevent double vision. Surgery may be necessary to
treat the strabismus, but the weak eye must also be treated for
Refractive discrepancy: In this case the
eyes have markedly different levels of nearsightedness, farsightedness
or astigmatism. The blurrier eye is ignored by the brain. Once
diagnosed, this vision condition may be treated with corrective lenses;
however, often the amblyopia must be treated as well.
Eye clouding or obstruction: Other eye
problems such as trauma, congenital cataract, scarring, or anything
preventing a clear image can result in disuse of that eye. The
ophthalmologist must address the obstruction, often by surgery, and
then treat the amblyopia.
Whatever the origin, treating amblyopia requires a
therapy aimed at making the child use the weak eye. Most commonly used
is an eye patch over the dominant eye worn full time or intermittently,
over a period of a week or two, or longer, until the weaker eye matches
the stronger one. Alternately, the ophthalmologist may prescribe a
blurred lens, or Atropine eye drops, which prevent the dominant eye
from focusing. These serve the similar purpose of imposing use of the
Proper treatment during early childhood will often
lessen or reverse amblyopia; however, it is common for the disorder to
recur during this period requiring treatment to resume. Once a child
passes the age of nine, amblyopia will usually not relapse if it has
been successfully treated up to that point. Conversely, it is much
more difficult to treat older patients with amblyopia. Nonetheless,
treatment can still be worthwhile for those beyond early childhood.
If your child is experiencing any symptoms of amblyopia, we encourage you to contact us today to schedule a consultation.
Dr. Casey’s education and experience allow him to confidently perform a variety of advanced vision correction treatments. Over the course of his career, he has helped numerous Las Vegas PRK, LASEK and LASIK eye surgery patients achieve clear vision, often without glasses. In addition, he is renowned as a skilled cataracts specialist and one of the most accomplished Las Vegas ReStor, ReZoom, Tecnis and other IOLs specialists. For patients suffering from presbyopia, Dr. Casey offers the advanced near vision CK treatment.
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