Is Your Child Suffering From Amblyopia?
There are a variety of eye conditions people suffer from as adults that could've been prevented if caught in childhood, and amblyopia is one of them. Also known as lazy eye, amblyopia is a condition where the brain favors one eye over the other, causing the non-favored eye to deteriorate into poor vision and possibly even blindness. Here's more information about this condition and how to tell if your child has it.
Causes of Amblyopia
The reason the brain favors one eye over the other is that there is a significant imbalance in the clarity of sight in the eyes. Because it's harder to see out of one eye, the brain focuses the majority of its energy supporting the eye with the best vision, neglecting the eye with the poorest vision.
This results in an imbalance in eye development, which can result in one eye that is unnaturally turned inwards or outwards and slow to respond to the brain's commands. Additionally, the person may have difficulty with depth perception and the vision in the lazy eye will typically be much worse than in its partner's.
The imbalance that causes the brain to favor one eye over the other can be caused by a number of things including physical misalignment of the eyes, the formation of a cataract in one of the eyes, one eye being more nearsighted or farsighted than the other, or one eye containing a worse astigmatism than the other.
Amblyopia can be fixed, but it must be caught in childhood. The treatment typically consists of placing a patch over the preferred eye for several hours a day and forcing the brain to see through the bad eye, which will help stimulate its development. In some cases, the doctor may recommend an eyedrop medication called atropine that causes the stronger eye to become unfocused, which achieves the same result.
The earlier amblyopia can be caught, the better the chances of correcting the problem before it becomes a permanent issue. Unfortunately, it can be challenging to detect in young children. One symptom of amblyopia is a wandering eye, where one eye is slow to move in the same direction as the other (e.g., if the stronger eye moves right, the weaker eye will take a second or two longer to catch up). Crossed eyes or eyes that are turned outward is another sign the brain may be favoring one eye over the other.
You can perform a simple test at home to determine if your child is suffering from this condition. Have your child look at a television set and cover one eye at a time. If the child complains or cries when one eye is covered but not the other, there's a good chance he or she may have amblyopia, and you need to take the child to an eye doctor for an exam as soon as possible.
To learn more about amblyopia or to schedule an eye exam for your child, contact a medical office like Advanced Eye Care & Surgery Center.