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Updated on July 12, 2008

What is Amblyopia?

Amblyopia is the low of vision in one eye that is not adequately developed in childhood. Sometimes it is called "lazy eye". This occurs despite the eye be anatomically normal. The eye with low vision is called amblyopic eye. The condition is common, affecting 2 to 3% of the population. Parents need to be aware of this condition to protect the vision of their children, as amblyopia must be treated during childhood.

The development of vision in both eyes is important. Many professions do not admit people who have good vision in one eye. If the person loses vision in one eye by trauma or disease, it is essential that the other eye has good vision. For all these reasons, amblyopia must be detected and treated as early as possible.

When vision should be tested?

It is recommended that children be examined by an ophthalmologist before the 3 years of age. The pediatrician or doctor's family must forward the child before that period if he identifies any sign of eyen change. If there is a family history of strabismus, congenital cataract or other eye disease of childhood the ophthalmologist could examine the child earlier.

Amblyopia is detected when the ophthalmologist identifies a difference of view between the two eyes. There are ways to estimate the vision in children, such as patching an eye and observerving the behavior of the child.

What causes Amblyopia ?

Amblyopia may be caused by any condition that prevents the normal use of the eyes or eye development. There are three main reasons:

-- Strabismus (eye diverted): the image of the diverted eye is removed to avoid double vision, and the child uses only the best eye

-- Error of refraction: when one eye has more myopia, hyperopia and astigmatism than the other, the eye with blurry vision (out of focus) is unused and can become ambliope. This is the type of ambiopia more difficult to be detected, because the eyes appear normal.

-- Opacity in the transparency of the eye: Any factor that prevents a proper focus of the image can lead to the development of amblyopia. The main example is the occurrence of cataracts. In general this is the most severe form of amblyopia.

How to treat Amblyopia?

To correct the amblyopia, it is necessary that the child uses the weak eye. This is done in general through the occlusion (eye patching) of the good eye. The proper prescription for glasses is indispensable, correcting the refractive error before starting therapy with occlusion. Even after the vision is restored, occlusion can be used for in an alternate form for maintenance of the vision improvement obtained.

The outcome of treatment will depend on the severity of amblyopia and the child's age when they made the diagnosis.

Your ophthalmologist can provide the proper guidance to correct amblyopia, but the involvement of parents is crucial. Successful treatment depends on the interest and involvement of parents and their ability to gain the confidence and cooperation of the child.


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