Symptoms and treatments of amblyopia

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Among children younger than six, there is a strange vision problem called amblyopia or lazy eye that typically affects only one eye. This ocular condition is now estimated to affect 1-5% of the total population. Its symptoms include eye strain, overall poor visual acuity, headache, and one-eye squinting. Such a patient can also realize the fact that his two eyes are not equally functioning.

amblyopiaPossible causes of amblyopia

A healthy eye has normal transmission of the visual simulation from the optic nerve to the brain. An amblyopic eye is caused by either no such transmission or poor transmission. And there are a wide range of possible reasons for this dysfunction. Trauma, strong uncorrected nearsightedness or farsightedness and strabismus are some of the possible factors that may cause amblyopia. People with amblyopia usually have poor central vision in one eye. Potential blindness can be caused if amblyopia is left untreated.

Eye patching is a common treatment

Since the brain turns off the weaker eye, one treatment for amblyopia is vision therapy exercise, which forces the brain to see through the amblyopic eye. The most common application is patching the stronger eye, which may take several hours each day or all day long for weeks. For convenience, children can take use of prosthetic contact lenses, which block vision in the stronger eye while maintaining natural eye color.

Atropine eye drops are an effective alternative

Atropine eye drops can also be placed in the stronger eye and then its vision can be blurred. This way of treatment eliminates the constant vigilance to check the eye patch. Certain studies have proved that atropine drops have become an effective alternative to patching. However, the disadvantage of atropine is its broad side effects, including light sensitivity, flushing and potential paralysis.

Refractive error-related amblyopia

Since strong uncorrected refractive error can be a reason that causes amblyopia, corrective eyeglasses and contact lenses may be prescribed to treat this vision problem. And sometimes eyeglasses should be used in a combination of patching.

Strabismus-caused amblyopia

While most of the amblyopia cases mentioned above can be cured by medications or eyewear, strabismus-caused amblyopia is more complex. The best way to treat strabismus-caused amblyopia is ocular surgery, which corrects the problematic muscles.

Early treatment is critical

Early treatment for amblyopia is essential, since it will never disappear naturally and may lead to permanent visual problems as serious as vision loss. The earlier treatment is initiated, the easier and faster the vision recovery is. An in-time treatment can maximize the change of regaining 20/20 vision. And the risk of developing eye diseases in the stronger eye should also be considered.