Amblyopia is also referred to as a lazy eye. Normally, your eyes and brain will work together to produce a single image. In amblyopia one of the eyes fail to work properly with the brain, this causes a reduction in vision of that eye.
Amblyopia can be caused if there is a misalignment between the two eyes (one eye turning in or out – being skew) this will cause the eyes to struggle to focus evenly (Strabismic Amblyopia), also when there is a big difference in refractive error between the two eyes (Refractive Amblyopia). Other causes of amblyopia include; being born with a cataract in one or both eyes (Obstructive Amblyopia) and malnutrition when the mother was still pregnant with the child (Organic Amblyopia).
Amblyopia is the most common cause of visual impairment amongst children, if this isn’t treated successfully during childhood it will persist into adulthood. Treatment may include removal of the cataract and inserting an intra-ocular lens, vision therapy , prescription lenses, prisms and eye patching.
If the child is at an age where patching is not ideal Atropine eye drops can be prescribed by an Ophthalmologist to temporarily blur out the vision in the stronger eye giving the same effect as patching. In the case of strabismic amblyopia the Ophthalmologist will evaluate to see if the child is a candidate for any possible surgery to align the two eyes.
Amblyopia in adults cannot be treated, therefore it’s very important to detect amblyopia in the first few years of life as the visual pathway can still be manipulated, after the age of 10 the visual system has adapted and can’t be altered. Early detection is essential.