Description, Causes and Risk Factors:
Alternative Name: Lazy eye.
Poor vision caused by abnormal development of visual areas of the brain in response to abnormal visual stimulation during early development. Amblyopia or "lazy eye," is the loss of one eye's ability to see details. It is the most common cause of vision problems in children.
Amblyopia occurs when the brain and eyes do not work together properly. In persons with amblyopia, the brain favors one eye. The preferred eye has normal vision, but because the brain ignores the other eye, a person's vision ability does not develop normally. Between ages 5 and 10, the brain stops growing and the condition becomes permanent.
Strabismus is the most common cause of amblyopia, and there is often a family history of this condition.
Other causes include:
Astigmatism in both eyes.
Eyes that turn in or out.
Eyes that do not appear to work together.
Inability to judge depth correctly.
Amblyopia is usually easily diagnosed with a complete examination of the eyes. Special tests are usually not required.
Amblyopic children can be treated with vision therapy, which often includes patching one eye, atropine eye drops, the correct prescription for nearsightedness or farsightedness, or surgery.
The main treatment involves patching the normal eye to force use of the lazy eye. Sometimes, drops are used to blur the vision of the normal eye instead of putting a patch on it. The underlying condition will also require treatment. If the lazy eye is due to a vision problem (nearsightedness or farsightedness), glasses or contact lenses will be prescribed.
Children whose vision cannot be expected to fully recover should wear glasses with protective lenses of polycarbonate, as should all children with only one good eye caused by any disorder. Polycarbonate glasses are shatter- and scratch-resistant.
Surgery may be performed on the eye muscles to straighten the eyes if non-surgical means are unsuccessful. Surgery can help in the treatment of amblyopia by allowing the eyes to work together better.
Early recognition and treatment of the problem in children can help to prevent permanent visual loss. All children should have a complete eye examination at least once between ages 3 and 5.
DISCLAIMER: This information should not substitute for seeking responsible, professional medical care.
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