An estimated three percent of the U.S. population has amblyopia. Amblyopia, also known as lazy eye, is a common vision development disorder. Amblyopia occurs when an eye does not reach normal visual acuity, even if glasses or contacts are worn. Generally, this condition begins in infancy, and usually only affects one eye, though it sometimes can occur in both eyes.
If treated early in life, an individual with amblyopia can avoid vision loss. However, left untreated, the eye can permanently lose vision.
Symptoms of Amblyopia
It can be difficult to spot lazy eye in infants. If you have noticed that your infant or young child has an apparent eye misalignment, such as crossed eyes, it’s important for you to immediately bring them in for eye care in Round Rock. Early intervention by an eye doctor is of the utmost importance.
You can also check to see if your child may have amblyopia through a simple screening test you can do at home. All you have to do is cover and uncover their eyes (one at a time) while they are looking at something; for example, while they’re watching TV. If your child is unfazed when you cover one eye, but begins to fuss when you cover the other, this test may suggest that they have blurred vision from an amblyopic eye.
Note that this is not a substitution for a diagnosis from a medical professional. It’s recommended that you schedule your baby’s first eye exam when they’re six months old. This way, their eye doctor can assess whether or not vision is developing normally and spot signs of amblyopia as early as possible.
Causes of Amblyopia
There are three types of lazy eye, which have three separate causes:
Strabismic amblyopia. This is the most common cause of lazy eye. A misaligned eye causes the brain to ignore its input to avoid double vision. This, in turn, causes strabismic amblyopia.
Refractive amblyopia. A lazy eye can also be caused by unequal refractive errors in both eyes, even if the eyes are perfectly aligned. For example, one eye may be near- or far-sighted while the other is not. Alternatively, one eye may have significant astigmatism while the other does not. When this occurs, the brain relies on the eye with better vision and stops listening to the one with blurred vision, which results in amblyopia due to disuse. This is called refractive amblyopia.
Deprivation amblyopia. Deprivation amblyopia occurs when something obstructs light from entering and being focused by a baby’s eye; for example, a congenital cataract. Addressing these concerns promptly is crucial to ensure normal visual development and to prevent visual disability.
Fortunately, there are options for individuals with amblyopia.
For strabismic amblyopia, strabismus surgery may be used to align the eyes. During recovery, the patient will wear an eye patch on their dominant eye and do visual exercises to help train the eyes to work together.
In the case of refractive amblyopia, treatment can simply be glasses or contact lenses to correct refractive errors. It’s also typical to require an eye patch for a period of time in order to train the brain to listen to the “lazy” eye and promote normal vision in that eye.
For children who may struggle with wearing an eye patch, there are also prosthetic contact lens that can be highly effective for correcting amblyopia. In addition, there are atropine drops that can be used to treat amblyopia. This works by blurring the near vision of the functioning eye, forcing the brain to use the other eye more and train it to function properly as a result.
If your child has amblyopia, there are options for eye care in Round Rock. Contact Round Rock Eye Consultants to make an appointment with a skilled eye doctor.