What is a Lazy Eye (Amblyopia)? Causes, Symptoms and Diagnosis
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Today we explore into amblyopia, pathology that affects vision. Do you know exactly what it is? Surely, it will sound more for the term "lazy eye". The amblyopia or vague eye, then, is the loss of the capacity of an eye to see the details clearly. Another important fact is that it is the most common cause of vision problems in children. You want to know more?

If during childhood the vision does not develop correctly for various reasons, it can lead to the appearance of amblyopia or lazy eye. This involves of the partial, greater or lesser loss of vision. Normally it affects one eye, but sometimes it can be bilateral (affect both). Because there are significant refractive defects in both eyes. It is a common condition. Study shows, it affects approximately 3% of the population.

Child may begin to suffer from vision problems after two years. Such as myopia, hyperopia or astigmatism. If this is the case, you may have to force one of the eyes (or even both) to focus and see correctly. This strain can cause amblyopia. Therefore, it is advisable to make an ophthalmological review between 2 and 3 years.

In case of noticing any symptom that indicates that the child may experience some type of vision problem, treatment should be started. Since not treated in time, can develop more conditions that are serious. Like as permanent visual damage, loss in the perception of depth or permanent poor vision.

To have normal vision, it is important that both eyes develop in the same way. If a child suffers from amblyopia and cannot be treat properly then it might becoming an incurable disease. Since from 9 years, the visual system is fully developed and, in general, will not be changed.

Normally the treatment for amblyopia (unilateral) is usually occlusion. It is a passive treatment that consists of covering the eye that has greater visual acuity (that is, the one that has developed correctly), forcing the focus and working of the one who has it diminished.

Other possible causes of the appearance of amblyopia can be those derived from strabismus or from a late-operated congenital cataract.

What is amblyopia?

The word amblyopia describes the deficiency of some people to see clearly through one eye. This vision problem occurs frequently in children. And it happens at the moment in which the nervous route that is included from the eye to the brain is not developed enough during childhood, causing the defective eye to send a confused and incorrect image to the brain, this causes the brain to get confused and this can ignore or reject the images from the defective eye.

There are two main causes for this pathology: strabismus and large graduation differences between one eye and another (what is called anisometropia). The vague eye appears when one of the eyes is used less than the other. This happens when you have strabismus (each eye looks in one direction) or when you have different graduation in the eyes (one dominates and the other is no longer used).

Symptoms of amblyopia

  • Eyes that turn inward or outward
  • Eyes that do not seem to work together
  • Inability to judge depth correctly
  • Poor vision in one eye

Types of symptoms

It does not cause symptoms and may go unnoticed by parents and teachers because it does not provide any signal, especially when it happens in one of the eyes. There is a false belief that children have symptoms, it is not. Therefore, it must be detected and taken to the pediatric ophthalmologist's office when the person is around four years old. The main causes can be strabismus (deviation in the eyes); refractive defect; cataracts or retinal diseases, among others.

How to know if the child has a lazy eye

We have already seen that it is essential to detect amblyopia as soon as possible. Because the lazy eye can rehabilitate in less time, as it takes for inactivity. In the less time, the brain is accustomed to a non-binocular, unbalanced vision between the two eyes.

Fortunately, it is not usual for a child to reach five years of age without the problem being detected. Since it is usually identified in visits to the pediatrician. Therefore (and for many other issues), it is important not to skip the usual check-ups and go to the pediatrician or ophthalmologist if you suspect that there is a vision problem.

It is also advisable to make a routine visit to the oculist-pediatrician around the year of age, to check that everything is fine. Regular visit that can be repeated after two or three years. In addition, the symptoms of amblyopia can sometimes go unnoticed to parents, or not manifest clearly at the beginning ...

Amblyopia often occurs together with strabismus ("crossed eyes"). Childhood cataracts, hyperopia, myopia or astigmatism is other causes of amblyopia.

With a simple test the specialist will detect if the child has amblyopia (accompanied or not by other disorders). This is achieved by forcing the eye to "work", to reach its maximum potential, how? Covering the eye that works well by means of a patch. Ophthalmic drops are sometimes used to blur the vision of the normal eye instead of a patch.

This simple treatment will reactivate atrophied brain functions in a period of time that varies greatly, from months to years, depending on the severity of the disorder. This reason confirms the importance of detecting the lazy eye in time, since the longer it remains unattended, the greater the visual deficiency and the longer the recovery time.

If the child has a refractive error (hyperopia, myopia or astigmatism), you will also need glasses.

In short, before five years is essential to detect this vision problem so common in childhood. After five or six years, it is much more difficult to recover the vision of the lazy eye.

Vision loss can be prevented

The success of the treatment also depends on:

The severity of amblyopia, and

The age at which the child begins treatment.

Vision may improve in most children if the problem is noticed and treated earlier. Strabismus or uneven refractive errors can be treated successfully during the first nine years of age. Typically do not occur again. Treatment may not be successful , if amblyopia is not detected until after early childhood.

If you have any questions or want more information, consult with an ophthalmologist.

How to improve amblyopia in children

In summary, amblyopia is a decrease in visual acuity without there being any injury that justifies it. There may be some defect in the eye (for example, myopia), but this does not justify the loss of vision. Did you know that increasing the occlusion time could accelerate the correction of amblyopia?

The improvement of amblyopia in children could be directly related to the number of daily hours of ocular obstruction. This is one of the conclusions presented by Dr. David Wallace, from Duke University (North Carolina, United States), at the Annual Meeting of the American Association of Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus. We understand ocular occlusion to cover the "good" eye in order to force the lazy person to work.

Specifically, this US researcher compared the effects of two to six hours a day of occlusion over ten weeks. The results showed an improvement in visual acuity with the most intense occlusion protocol, which reinforces the utility of this strategy against residual amblyopia.

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