Amblyopia is an eye disorder that occurs when the brain and the eyes do not work together properly and the brain favors one eye over the other. We at Nova Vision Care want to keep you informed so that we can catch and diagnose any potential problems for you or your children.
Amblyopia can result from any condition that prevents one eye from focusing less than the other or when there is vision loss in one eye. When one eye fails to achieve normal vision the brain begins to ignore the input from that eye and the result can be amblyopia or “lazy eye”.
Problems often begin in infancy and early childhood. If it is diagnosed early enough, treatment can begin and reduced vision can be avoided. If left untreated, amblyopia can cause severe visual disability and in some cases legal blindness.
There are three different kinds of amblyopia.
Strabismic Amblyopia is when one eye is misaligned, it doesn’t focus straight and looks either up, down or out. The brain then will ignore the input from this eye and vision will begin to deplete. Of course with all eye disorders an exam is needed for accurate diagnosis, however there is a simple test you might try at home. A sign that strabismic amblyopia may be present is that your child cries or whines when one or the other eye is covered during visual activities. This can be a sign of discomfort and confusion that is caused by the brain favoring one eye and ignoring the other.
Refractive Amblyopia is when there is unequal refractive errors in the eyes. This is when there is a significant difference in unmatched near or farsightedness. Again the brain will rely more heavily on the eye that less uncorrected and ignore the input from the worse eye.
Deprivation Amblyopia is when there is something blocking the light from entering the eye, most likely a cataract. The brain gets almost no input or very blurry input from the cataract eye and, once again will begin to ignore the information supplied.
Treatment depends on which form of amblyopia you or your child is diagnosed with but there are other things to do for each specific form of the disorder.
For strabismic amblyopia often surgery is needed to straighten the eyes, although this isn’t always the case. Whether surgery is needed or not the other half of strabismic treatment is eye patching and vision therapy. The goal of treatment is to get both eyes to work together cohesively.
For refractive amblyopia simple glasses or contacts may be all that is needed to correct the refractive errors. Usually though some patching or vision therapy is necessary to force the brain to allow input from the amblyopic eye.
For deprivation amblyopia removal of the cloudy part of the eye is necessary before beginning vision therapy and patching to even out the usage of the eyes.
For all forms of amblyopia, early detection is preferred. The earlier we catch something the better the chance we have to correct it. But there are new studies that show that vision therapy and treatment can help even in older children and adults. There are computer games and other things that stimulate neural changes that often are used on older patients.
If you suspect amblyopia or have any questions or concerns about diagnosis and treatment please contact us today.