This Optometrist’s Life- Amblyopia

Amblyopia aka “lazy eye” occurs during a person’s childhood years. Although the reasons for amblyopia can be multifactorial, the main cause is secondary to visual deprivation. There are several types of amblyopia: strabismic, anisometropia, isometropia, meridional and anatomical deprivation. Essentially, amblyopia occurs due to an eye turn (in, out, up or down), high eyeglasses prescription, asymmetric prescription between each eye, or an abnormal anatomical obstruction that prevents light transmission through the eye.

Amblyopia occurs because light is prevented from reaching the most sensitive area of the retina known as the fovea. In order for both eyes to develop equally, the brain needs to receive an equal visual stimulus from light rays. The visual processing center in the brain regulates each eye individually, so, an uequal amount of light transmission in each eye may lead to amblyopia.

It is important for parents to be aware of certain behaviors manifested by children. Do they turn or tilt their heads in order to see, do they cover one eye in order to see, or do they complain of seeing double images? Children should have their eyes evaluated by a pediatric optometrist or pediatric ophthalmolgist as early as age of 1. Binocular vision disorders, caught early, can be treated. The critical ages are between 6-10. If amblyogenic risk factors are recognized during this critical period, the child can be prevented from developing amblyopia or lessen the manifestation. Its very heart breaking to encounter a patient who is only able to see 20/400 despite their doctor’s best efforts.

To all parents, its never too early to have your child’s eyes evaluated. The sooner its discovered they need eyeglasses or other forms of vision therapy, the better!

This blog is not intended to substitute for evaluation by an eyecare practitioner; however, it is fully intended to provide parents with invaluable information. If you have any question regarding your child’s eyesight, see your pediatric optometrist or ophthalmologist.

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