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Amblyopia or Lazy Eye

By: Jo Johnson - Updated: 4 Dec 2012 | comments*Discuss
|amblyopia; Lazy Eye; Reduced Vision;

Amblyopia is a condition affecting the visual ability of the eyes. More widely known as a lazy eye, it often affects only one eye, but there have been cases of it resulting in reduced vision in both eyes.

The term lazy eye can cause some confusion as it is often a name given to those who have an eye that appears to turn inwards or outwards, this is in fact a separate problem called strabismus, which can in turn lead to amblyopia if it is not detected and treated at an early stage.

What Causes Amblyopia?

Amblyopia occurs as a result of the brain and eye not communicating effectively, leading the affected eye to not function and see as well as it could. The brain matter responsible for vision and the components of the eye fail to work together, leading to some degree of loss of sight and focal definition.

Forms of strabismus that are left untreated can lead to amblyopia as can any trauma to the eye, or extreme long or short sightedness.

Many of the contributory factors leading to amblyopia can be successfully treated at an early stage helping prevent the condition from deteriorating.

Signs And Symptoms of Amblyopia

This condition can only be diagnosed by a professional competent in performing detailed eye examinations. Many parents are often worried that their child appears to have a 'lazy eye', and it is very common in new born babies to appear to have an eye that deviates inwards or outwards. This is not a problem and will usually resolve itself by the age of four months as the muscles and focal ability of the child's eyes develop.

A person suffering from amblyopia may have a tendency to squint or even close the affected eye as the brain will only allow the 'good' eye to see things clearly. They may also suffer from eye strain and headaches as they try and strain to see with clear vision; sometimes they may also describe things as being blurry.

Treating Amblyopia

Amblyopia can be treated using a variety of methods. Children can often have the condition corrected using eye patches that allow the affected eye to strengthen and encourage the brain and the eye to work together more effectively.

The patch will sometimes need to be worn for several hours each day which can cause problems with compliance in young children.

Some professionals will recommend the use of eye drops using a drug that will blur the vision in the 'good' eye, forcing the affected eye to work harder and train itself to focus more clearly.

Occasionally the use of surgery will be needed, especially if strabismus has been a contributory factor. The muscles supporting the eye will be adjusted to help straighten out the deviance, this way the eyes and brain will be able to work together more easily and a higher focal definition will be achieved.

Amblyopia is a disorder of the eye resulting in some degree of visual loss. It is often referred top as a lazy eye, a term which can cause confusion as many people use this name to describe an eye that turns inwards or outwards, which is correctly known as strabismus.

Amblyopia can be treated and if treated early enough, vision can often be restored. If left untreated the brain will simply switch off the affected eye and vision will become dependant on the remaining healthy eye.

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