What is amblyopia?
Amblyopia is when one eye is weaker than the other eye (from birth onwards), resulting in the brain showing preference to the ‘good’ eye. Amblyopia is sometimes referred to as ‘lazy eye’ but we don’t like that terminology. We prefer to say one eye is not as good as the other one, but it’s not lazy! An amblyopic eye does not necessarily have to be turned. On rare occasions, both the eyes can be amblyopic as a result of high glasses prescriptions.
How does someone get amblyopia?
Amblyopia can be caused by: a turn in the eye (known as a squint or strabismus), a high glasses prescription, a significant difference in prescription between the two eyes (called anisometropia), or an obstacle blocking the vision in one eye e.g. a droopy lid or cataract in one eye. Quite often, children may not realise they have amblyopia.
What is the treatment for amblyopia?
Any glasses issued must be worn full-time. Patching (occlusion therapy) or blurring the good eye with certain drops can be done over a few months to encourage the amblyopic eye to improve.
When should amblyopia be treated?
The sooner, the better! Best results are achieved when the child is young, certainly before the age of 7 years but ideally much younger. If treatment is delayed or not done at all, the vision in the amblyopic eye will be permanently reduced.
Give lots of encouragement to any child undergoing patching, perhaps even a treat when done properly. This is the crucial age to improve an amblyopic eye!
Useful link: for more information, visit KidsHealth.