Patient Education - Ambylopia
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Ambylopia

What is amblyopia ?

Amblyopia is reduced vision in an anatomically normal eye. The term "lazy eye" is used to describe it. Children under 9 years of age whose vision is still developing are at the highest risk for amblyopia. Generally, the younger the child is, greater is the risk.

When does amblypia develop ?

Amblyopia develops when any of the following conditions occur:
o Squint/Strabismus (eyes not positioned straight)
o There is a difference in power between the two eyes (one eye focuses differently from the other)
o Cataract (clouding of the lens)
o High or moderate power in both eyes
o Severe ptosis (droopy eyelids)

Why does amblyopia develop?

Amblyopia develops because when one eye is turned, as in squint, two different pictures are sent to the brain. In a young child, the brain learns to ignore the image of the deviated eye and see only the image of the better eye. Similarly when there is difference in power between the two eyes, the blurred image formed by the eye with greater power is avoided by the brain. In order that the retina may capture an object, it needs adequate light and visual stimulus. When these factors are absent, as in the presence of cataract, amblyopia results. A moderate or high degree of refractive power present in both eyes, when not corrected early and adequately, also results in amblyopia.

What should be done?

Amblyopia can often be reversed if it is detected and treated early. Cooperation of the patient and parents is required to achieve good results. If left untreated or if not treated properly, the reduced vision or amblyopia becomes permanent and vision cannot be improved by any means.

How is amblyopia treated?

The most effective way of treating amblyopia is to make the child use the amblyopic eye. Covering or patching the good eye to force the use of the amblyopic eye may be necessary to ensure equal and normal vision. This can be achieved by:
• prescribing proper spectacles if the patient is found to have refractive error
• removal of cataract when indicated
• occluding the normal eye
• Surgery, when amblyopia is accompanied by strabismus