Amblyopia- Overview, Facts, Types and Syptoms, Medications&Treatment
AMBLYOPIA

AMBLYOPIA

Amblyopia, or most commonly known as the Lazy Eye, is a condition wherein it reduces the vision in one eye, although, it can rarely happen to both of eyes in some cases. This condition is commonly due to abnormal visual development during the early stages in life, such as from birth up to the age of 7 years old. Amblyopia is the main reason for the decreased vision among children and is described that the weaker – or lazy – eye often digresses inward or outward.

Early diagnosis and immediate treatment can prevent any long-term effects with your child’s vision. When treating this condition, the doctor may recommend using glasses or contact lenses, or undergo patching therapy to help correct the more reduced vision.

SYMPTOMS

Below is a list of signs and symptoms associated with Amblyopia:

  • An eye/eyes that digresses inward or outward
  • Eyes that do not adequately coordinate with one another
  • Poor depth perception
  • Squinting or shutting an eye
  • Head tilting
  • Abnormal results of vision screening test

It is recommended to see a doctor and get an eye examination to see if one has Amblyopia or not.

 

Causes

The development of Amblyopia is due to the changes of the nerve pathways between a thin layer of tissue, called the retina, located at the back of the eye and the brain. In this condition, the weaker eye only receives fewer visual signals than the normal one. It will slowly no longer be able to coordinate with the other eye, and any information being processed by the weaker eye would then be ignored or suppressed by the brain.

This condition happens due to the following:

Muscle Imbalance (Strabismus Amblyopia). Because of imbalance of muscles surrounding the eye, this causes the eye/s to cross in or turn out and prevents any coordination between both eyes, thus resulting in Lazy Eye or Amblyopia.

The difference and variation to the  sharpness of vision between the eyes (refractive amblyopia) between the information being given by each eye, most likely due to farsightedness or nearsightedness, or even due to astigmatism, can result in  lazy eyes. Glasses or contact lenses are then used to correct the flaws observed by the eyes inflicted with amblyopia.

Deprivation. The effects of having a lazy eye can alter or restrict the vision being seen by the eye. Deprivation amblyopia in newborn babies is an urgent case where treatments and medications are primarily needed to prevent any permanent vision loss. Also, this is the most severe type of amblyopia.

DIAGNOSIS

To diagnose amblyopia, your doctor will check the condition of both eyes and observe if there are wandering eyes, or a difference or poor vision in both eyes. You will be administered with eye drops that would dilate the eyes, causing blurred images that would generally last for a couple of hours or a day, at most.

When testing for amblyopia, the methods being used would vary significantly on the child’s age and developmental stage. Below are two types of approach:

  • Preverbal children. The doctor will use a lighted magnifying device used for detecting cataracts. Other tests also involve assessing an infant’s or toddler’s ability to fix their vision and to follow a moving object.
  • Children age three and older. Each eye of the child will be covered and be tested by looking at pictures or letters to see if they can properly recognize them.

 

TREATMENTS

It is highly recommended to get an early diagnosis and get treated as soon as possible during their childhood phase, wherein the complex connections are still forming between the eye and the brain. As early as seven years old, excellent results are guaranteed to occur, although there are some cases where half of the children aging between 7 and 17 respond to treatments.

There are a lot of treatment options available for different cases of amblyopia. Treatment for your child is based on the cause of this condition and on how much it is affecting your child. Your doctor might recommend the following:

  • Corrective Eyewear. Once diagnosed with amblyopia, your doctor may recommend using glasses or contact lenses to help correct your condition, such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism.
  • Eye Patches. To help revive the weaker eye, an eye patch is recommended to wear over the eye with better vision for two to six hours a day. In some rare cases, wearing an eye patch for too long may cause the normal eye to develop amblyopia. However, it is usually treatable.
  • Bangerter Filter. Just like an eye patch, the filter is inserted in the eyeglass lens of the stronger eye to soften its vision and forcefully stimulate the weaker eye.
  • This can be an alternative for eye patches since it contains atropine that could help obscure the eye’s vision. It is administered to the stronger eye to stimulate the weaker eye. Also, it is prescribed to be used on weekends or daily, although it has side effects upon use, such as sensitivity to light and eye irritation.
  • In a worst-case scenario where your child has deprivation amblyopia caused by droopy eyelids or cataracts, your doctor may recommend surgery, together with other lazy eye treatments.

There are also activity-based treatments that could stimulate and encourage the child to use their weaker eye. Examples would be drawing, finishing puzzles, or playing computer games.

With proper treatments, vision may improve within weeks to months, approximately six months to two years.

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