Amblyopia, also known as lazy eye, occurs when the brain does not properly develop the visual signal along the pathway from the eye to the brain. Over time, the brain will ignore the signal received from the weaker (amblyopic) eye, and focus on the better eye. Sometimes amblyopia can develop in both eyes. This condition appears in childhood, and can lead to reduced vision and lack of depth perception, that is not correctable by lenses. Some risk factors for amblyopia include premature birth, family history of amblyopia, cataracts in early childhood or developmental disabilities. Amblyopia can develop from an eye misalignment (strabismic amblyopia), from a large amount of farsightedness, nearsightedness, astigmatism or difference between the two eyes (refractive amblyopia), or from a blocked signal due to a variety of causes such as cataract, drooped eyelid, or corneal opacity (deprivation amblyopia).
Treatment is generally less effective as an adult, and therefore, should be initiated as early as possible in childhood to reverse the potential for permanent central vision loss. Treatment to prevent amblyopia varies depending on the underlying cause. If strabismus is the cause, the eye that is pointed straight ahead may be patched or blurred to force the misaligned eye to be used. In some cases, treatment consists of an eye muscle surgery to properly re-align the eye. If the cause of amblyopia is due to high refractive error (farsighted, nearsighted, or astigmatism), a glasses prescription may be prescribed. If the signal is blocked due to deprivation, treatment may consist of surgery to remove the cause of the blocked signal. Parents and children are often unable to detect amblyopia. Amblyopia can be diagnosed by an eye care provider, an optometrist or ophthalmologist, during a comprehensive eye examination. The American Optometric Association recommends an eye examination between 6 months and 12 months of age, between the ages 3 and 5, and once before first grade, or as recommended by an eye care provider.
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Here are some additional resources for this condition:
American Optometric Association- https://www.aoa.org/patients-and-public/eye-and-vision-problems/glossary-of-eye-and-vision-conditions/amblyopia
National Eye Institute- https://www.nei.nih.gov/learn-about-eye-health/eye-conditions-and-diseases/amblyopia-lazy-eye
American Academy of Ophthalmology- https://www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/amblyopia-lazy-eye
Prevent Blindness- https://www.preventblindness.org/amblyopia-lazy-eye