Lazy Eye (Amblyopia): Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis & Treatment

Amblyopia is also known as lazy eye. It is a disorder of sight due to the eye and brain not working well together. Lazy eye results in decreased vision in an eye that otherwise typically appears normal and this is the most common cause of decreased vision in a single eye among children and younger adults.

After fixing the underlying cause, vision is not restored right away, as the mechanism also involves the brain. Amblyopia can be difficult to detect, so vision testing is recommended for all children around four to five years of age.

Amblyopia begins by the age of five and in adults, the disorder is estimated to affect 1–5% of the population.This condition may make people ineligible to be pilots or police officers.

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How does Amblyopia affect your body?

Amblyopia is a condition that affects vision, a sense that develops as you grow. During vision development, your sight can be affected by a number of factors that keep your brain and eyes from communicating properly. If one of these factors interferes with the development of one eye differently than the other, it may trigger your brain to ignore the signal it’s receiving from the affected eye. Ignoring that eye can become a habit for your brain, leading to amblyopia.

What are the causes of Amblyopia?

Amblyopia develops because of abnormal visual experience early in life that changes the nerve pathways between a thin layer of tissue (retina) at the back of the eye and the brain. Common causes include:

  • Muscle imbalance (strabismus) – The most common cause of amblyopia is an imbalance in the muscles that position the eyes.It can cause the eyes to cross in or turn out, and prevents the eyes from tracking together in a coordinated way.
  • Refractive anisometropia– A significant difference between the prescriptions in each eye, often due to farsightedness but sometimes to nearsightedness or astigmatism can result in amblyopia.
  • Deprivation– Cataract can deprive a child of clear vision in that eye.
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What are the risk factors of Amblyopia?

  • Infants born with low-birth weight or prematurely are at greater risk of developing amblyopia.
  • A family history of amblyopia, or media opacities would increase the risk of amblyopia in the child.
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What are the symptoms of Amblyopia?

People typically have:

  • Poor stereo vision.
  • Poor pattern recognition, poor visual acuity, and low sensitivity to contrast and motion on the affected eye.
  • Functional abnormalities in spatial vision like reductions in visual acuity, contrast sensitivity function, and vernier acuity.
  • Binocular abnormalities such as impaired stereo acuity and abnormal binocular summation.

How is Amblyopia diagnosed?

Diagnosis of amblyopia as early as possible is necessary to keep the vision loss at a minimum.Regular screening for amblyopia is recommended for children between 3 to 8 years of age.

It is diagnosed by identifying low visual acuity in one or both eyes, out of proportion to the structural abnormality of the eye and excluding other visual disorders.

In young children, it can be estimated by observing the reactions of the patient reacts when one eye is covered, including observing the patient’s ability to follow objects with one eye.

Binocular retinal birefringence scanning may be able to identify amblyopia that is associated with strabismus, microstrabismus, or reduced fixation accuracy.

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How to prevent & control Amblyopia?

Lazy eye can be prevented by the early detection and treatment of strabismus, astigmatism, cataracts, and other vision problems.

Treatment of Amblyopia- Allopathic Treatment

  • Before using an eye patch, in the affected eye, problems like nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism is treated. The eye patch is then used to cover the strong eye so as to make the child use his/her weak eye. At first the vision will be blurry but after time, within weeks and sometime months, it will resolve.
  • Children with amblyopia also need glasses to help their eyes focus.
  • In mild cases of lazy eye, an eye drop called atropine is used. It blurs the strong eye so the child won’t need to wear a patch.
  • Refractive surgery may be used to correct anisometropia and eye muscle surgery can correct strabismus.

Treatment of Amblyopia- Homeopathic Treatment

No homeopathic medicine is known to cure lazy eye, at present.

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Amblyopia- Lifestyle Tips

  • Eat heathy, nutritional diet rich in vitamin.
  • If your child has lazy eye, do not let him/her remove the eye patch or you can use eye drop instead of eye patch.
  • Regular eye checkup necessary for children, especially till 8 years of age.

What are recommended exercise for person with Amblyopia?

  • Moving exercise of the weak eye, by covering the strong eye for 10 seconds and focusing on a distant object.
  • Circle your eye balls for 2 seconds every 30 minutes while reading or using computer.

Amblyopia & pregnancy- Things to know

  • The possibility of child having amblyopia may be increased if the mother smoked during pregnancy.
  • However, if the mother has amblyopia then there’s a risk that that baby will also have it.
  • Regular screening of eye is necessary for child till he/she is 5 years of age.

Common complications related to Amblyopia

Untreated lazy eye can lead to permanent vision loss.


FAQs

Question: What is the relationship in anisometropia and amblyopia?

Answer: Anisometropia is a condition where a significant difference in the refractive errors of the two eyes occurs. If anisometropia is present in infancy and is undetected or untreated, it often results in the development of lazy eye or amblyopia in the weaker eye.

Question: At what age should children have their first eye exam?

Answer: Children should have their first eye exam at about age three till the age of 8-9 years.

Question: Is the amblyopic eye blind?

Answer: No; the amblyopic eye is not blind as it is not entirely without sight. It affects only the central vision of the affected eye.


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