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Amblyopia and Lazy Eye

written by: Kathy Foust • edited by: Leigh A. Zaykoski • updated: 6/3/2009

Read this informative article to found out what Amblyopia and lazy are as well as how they can best be treated. Find out why it is important to have your child checked for any vision problems within their first 6-8 years of life.

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    What is Amblyopia?

    Amblyopia is a condition that has inappropriately known as "lazy eye". In point of fact, Amblyopia can be caused by some of the conditions that actually meet the criteria of lazy eye, but is not the same thing. Lazy eye is usually labeled so when the eyelid is drooping or the eyes are crossing.

    Amblyopia itself is actually the lack of development in vision and is usually hereditary, but can be caused by lazy eye interfering with the vision itself.

    To understand Amblyopia one must understand how the eye works. The brain is actually trained to interpret the images that the eyes present. The eyes themselves are simply the tools that the eye uses as part of processing images. Therefore, if the eyes are blocked or interfered with in some way, the brain is unable to develop the ability to interpret images. For this reason, it is best to have your child checked for any type of vision problems as early as 1-2 years old. Why? Because the brain is still developing. If your child has severe vision problems and an attempt is made to correct them later in life, it may be too late because the brain will reject this new information as not being compatible with what it already knows. So, don't wait. Get your child's vision checked as early as possible.

    There is a variety of Amblyopia treatments available and they are all described in the next section. Don't panic if your child has Amblyopia. There are some rather simple solutions that can ease your stress and enhance the vision of your child.

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    Amblyopia Treatments

    Does your child have a droopy eye or maybe crossed eyes? Do they have problems focusing or complain of being unable to see clearly? These are some of the symptoms that Amblyopia may be developing and that the vision of the child may not be. If your child is diagnosed with Amblyopia then you need to be aware of the treatments available. Some of Amblyopia treatments are listed below.

    • Treatment of the condition that causes Amblyopia. The treatment for this condition will be specific to the condition. For example, if you couldn't talk because your tongue was not developed, it wouldn't do you any good to take speech therapy until your tongue was developed.
    • Eye patch. If the eye patch is not used then one eye will continue to do the work of both eyes. Using the eye patch basically forces one eye to do some work. Some of you with small children are cringing and wondering exactly how you are going to work that out with your toddler. Don't panic, you have more options.
    • Exercises. There are some exercises that can be performed by the child so that the eye is made to practice or "work out" so to speak. Again, parents of toddlers be patient, there really is a simple solution in here.
    • Glasses. Of course, corrective lenses can also be used. However, as the mother of a toddler who snapped his $300 glasses in half while I was out of the room, I wouldn't recommend this route.
    • Surgery. There is a corrective surgery that can be performed to correct this problem through tightening of the muscles to avoid the eye drifting off and helping it to keep a line of vision with the other eye. This surgery takes about 45 minutes from the point of entrance to exit and seems to have excellent results. Keep in mind that the brain receives its "training" within the first 6-8 years of life, so the sooner you get your child's eyes checked, the better off they will be.
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    Gabriel Eye Institute Mishawaka, IN 2009