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Amblyopia

Definition:

Amblyopia, commonly known as lazy eye, is the eye condition noted by reduced vision not correctable by glasses or contact lenses and is not due to any eye disease. The brain, for some reason, does not fully acknowledge the images seen by the amblyopic eye. This almost always affects only one eye but may manifest with reduction of vision in both eyes. The eye which has the good vision suppresses the image from the other eye which becomes weak and if not treated in time becomes lazy or useless.

Causes:

  • The image formed by both the eyes should be clear during the critical period(birth to 6 years of age), anything that interferes with clear vision in either eye during the critical period can result in amblyopia.
  • The most common causes of amblyopia are constant strabismus/squint (constant turn of one eye).
  • Anisometropia (different vision/prescriptions in each eye).
  • Blockage of an eye due to trauma, lid droop, etc.
  • If one eye sees clearly and the other sees a blur, the good eye and brain will inhibit (block, suppress, ignore) the eye with the blur. Thus, amblyopia is a neurologically active process. The inhibition process (suppression) can result in a permanent decrease in the vision in that eye that cannot be corrected with glasses, lenses, or lasik surgery.

Diagnosis:

Since amblyopia usually occurs in one eye only, many parents and children may be unaware of the condition, therefore comprehensive vision examination with cycloplegic drops helps in diagnosis of amblyopia.

Treatment Options:

  • In the treatment process the sight in the lazy eye can be restored by first treating the underlying cause.
  • This is followed by patching the better eye for a variable period of time forcing the lazy eye to work by strengthening its vision.
  • Vision therapy in the form of eye exercises helps in improving the vision in the lazy eye.
  • Medication in the form of drops or ointment to blur the vision of the good eye can also be used in addition to force the weaker eye to work.
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