Amblyopia Disability -Strabismus is Curable
How the Eye Functions
The human eye collects, focuses and transmits light through the lens to create an image of its surroundings which is created on the retina. The retina is a thin layer of light sensitive tissue at the back of the eye. The eye controls the amount of light that enters the eye and the iris (which is the colored part of the eye) controls the amount of light passing through the pupil.
The cornea is the transparent, protective outer surface of the eye. It helps focus the light, as does the lens, which sits just behind the iris. The retina changes the entering light into nerve signals and sends them to the optic nerve which has more than 1,000,000 nerve fibers to the brain.
Diagram of Eye
Visual impairments happen to most people at some time in their lives but typically it might be from age where you need glasses to read the fine print. There are several other more serious types of impairments, but I will discuss visual impairment in children
Amblyopia and Stabismus
My granddaughter had Amblyopia (also called lazy eye) when she was an infant and it lasted throughout her childhood. Amblyopia occurs when thebrain and the eyes do not work properly together. The brain actually favors one eye. The preferred eye has normal vision, but because the other eye is ignored, the vision in the other eye does not develop normally. Between ages 5 and 10, the brain stops growing and the condition becomes permanent unless they have had treatment. Children that receive treatment before age 5 usually have a near complete recovery of normal vision. Strabismus (commonly called crossed eyes) is quite often associated with amblyopia and is a disorder in which the eyes do not line up in the same direction when focusing.
When the patches were off you could tell my granddaughter also had strabismus which is caused by a lack of coordination between the eyes. This disease does run in families, but that was not the case with my granddaughter. The cause is rarely known and the problem is present at birth or occurs shortly after birth. The eyes look in different directions and do not focus at the same time on a single point. This is a very common side effect of amblyopia since the brain will start to ignore messages sent by the crossed eye. Her father took her to an eye doctor as soon as they realized there was something wrong with her eyes.
Is he not adorable?
Treatment involves strategies to strengthen the weakened muscles and realign the eyes. Glasses, (polycarbonate glasses are used because they a shatter and scratch resistant) and eye muscle exercises may be prescribed. Surgery may be preformed on the eye muscles to straighten the eyes if non-surgical means are unsuccessful.
The amblyopia surgery helps the eyes to work together much better. Surgery was done on my granddaughter at about age 2. Then they would put eye drops in her good eye daily to force her lazy eye to work. She hated the drops and always cried, which broke out hearts. I think the drops must have burned a little. She did start wearing glasses, and then using kids eye patches on the good eye. This process went on for years. She was excellent about leaving her glasses and the patch on and didn’t complain. She saw a vision therapist frequently and her glasses were changed as her eye progressed. She must have had dozens of eye exams as I took her quite often when her father was working as he had sole custody of her at this time.
There is another aspect of this disease which you might not think about but if you only have good vision in one eye then you eye hand coordination can be a problem. My granddaughter was very upset in grade school when they made her play baseball because she couldn’t hit the ball. She was not good in sports due to the eye problem. However, she was academically at the top of the class. This was where she could shine and she worked hard, always doing her homework. She is now in her first year of college with a 75% scholarship and she earned some college credits while in high school. She still wears glasses but she is a beautiful girl and I wrote about her and posted a picture for my 100th hub. All the eye exercises, patching and surgery paid off in her case.
If you have a baby or infant and they appear to have anything unusual with their eyes, see an eye doctor as soon as possible. Many eye diseases can be cured if they are diagnosed at an early age.
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Encouraging Words For Those Affected By Strabismus From Linda Leinart
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The copyright to this article is owned by Pamela Oglesby. Permission to republish this article in print or online must be granted by the author in writing.