If your child has been diagnosed with amblyopia, there are some facts you should know about the condition.
Also known as lazy eye, amblyopia occurs when the vision of one eye is reduced because the eye does not work properly with the brain, according to the National Eye Institute. While the eye looks normal, the brain works better with the other eye.
Amblyopia is the most common cause of visual impairment among children. Untreated in early childhood it will not correct itself. Even corrective glasses can’t bring objects into focus, according to the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus.
There are a number of reasons the eye cannot focus, including strabismus, or misalignment of the eyes, which can cause them to either cross or turn out, or by a cataract, which clouds the front of the eye. When one eye can’t focus like the other, either from nearsightedness (myopia), farsightedness (hyperopia) or astigmatism, amblyopia occurs.
Treatment includes forcing the weak eye to work more than the stronger eye, either by using an eye patch over the normal eye or by using the drug atropine. When a patch is used, it is worn over the normal eye for several weeks, or up to several months, depending on how long it takes to strengthen the weaker eye and more fully develop the parts of the brain involved in vision, says NEI. Studies show that patching can be successful on children up to age 17, which is why vision screening in early childhood is important.
The use of atropine involves placing a daily drop of the drug in the stronger eye, making it blur temporarily to force the weaker eye to focus. Atropine has been shown to be as effective as patching, and is often easier to use on children.
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