Amblyopia

What is Amblyopia?

Amblyopia, a medical term that is more commonly known as “lazy eye”, is a condition that results in reduced vision (not correctable to 20/20) in one or both eyes that cannot be improved with the correction of glasses or contact lenses and is not caused by disease of the eye. From the time a child is born, their eyes begin to process the world around them (colors, shapes, motion, etc), constantly collecting visual information and sending it through the visual pathway to be processed in the brain. By the age of 6 years old, our vision should have developed to accurately depict letters on the 20/20 line of the eye chart, as long as there are no disruptions to this process. There are three main disruptions that can occur during visual development, the most common is called refractive amblyopia (caused by an uncorrected prescription), followed by strabismic amblyopia (caused by an eye turn) and deprivation amblyopia (caused by conditions that physically block images from getting into the eye clearly such as infantile cataracts or trauma). The prevalence of amblyopia in the worldwide is at approximately 1-5%. (reference 1)

 

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms of amblyopia often times go undetected, as one eye usually has better vision. It is only noticed under monocular conditions (covering the "good" eye). Children may never complain about not being able to see and may commonly pass school screenings. Comprehensive eye exams by your eye doctor can help properly diagnosed and treat amblyopia. We reccomend that your child be seen for the first eye exam by 1 year of age to ensure the proper developmet of the visual system.

 

How does it affect a person’s lifestyle?

  • Reduced Visual Acuity
  • Career Choices (Some professions, such as air force pilots, require 20/20 vision in both eye to be considered qualified for the job). 
  • Poor depth perception

  • Difficulty in sports (difficulty catching a ball, batting, shooting, etc.)

  • Poor hand-eye coordination

  • Headaches/Eye Strain

 

Treatment Options

Amblyopia is a preventable and treatable disease, especially if detected early in life. 

  • Optical Corrective Lenses
  • Occlusion (Patching/Filters/Atropine Eye Drops)
  • Active Vision Therapy 

 

How can Vision Therapy Help?

Vision Therapy can help treat amblyopia by utilizing a series of exercises and techniques to stimulate the visual system to reestablish the connections from the eye to the brain increasing visual acuity, decreasing the likelihood of supression of the eyes, and improving binocular vision function (our eye teaming skills) such as: improved depth perception, hand-eye coordination, eye coordination, eye focusing, and eye tracking. Therapy teaches the patient to use a concious effort during the improvement of their visual skills. The amount of therapy required to improve these skills varies from patient to patient depending upon the severity of the amblyopia. Many think that after a cetain age amblyopia is no longer treatable. however research has suggested that this may not be the case. Adults with amblyopia have shown improvements in Visual Acuity (Reference 2) 

 

References

1. Aldebasi YH. Prevalence of amblyopia in primary school children in Qassim province, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Middle East Afr J Opthalmol. 2015 Jan-Mar; 22(1): 86-91.

2. Levi DM. Visual Processing in amblyopia: human studies. Strabismus. 2006 Mar; 14 (1): 11-9.