Amblyopia Signs, Causes and Treatments

Amblyopia or a lazy eye is a disorder that causes the eye to fail to achieve its normal visual acuity. This condition begins in infancy or early childhood and typically affects only one eye, though there are cases where both eyes are affected by amblyopia. Approximately 2-3 percent of the United States population suffers from some degree of this condition.

If amblyopia is diagnosed early in life it can often be prevented from causing permanent damage to the child's vision. If a lazy eye is left untreated it can cause the affected eye to become permanently disabled, leading to legal blindness.

Symptoms of Amblyopia

Amblyopia often first appears during infant vision development which can make it difficult to determine the presence of symptoms. Children with this condition often experience strabismus, have crossed eyes or a noticeable misalignment of the eyes. Your child may become fussy or cry when you cover one of their eyes. This may be more prominent if you cover one eye as opposed to the other, implying that your child has one "good" eye and one that has vision that is blurred.

Causes of Amblyopia

There are generally three types of amblyopia, the causes for which differ from each other.

Detection for Amblyopia

Early detection increases the treatment options that are available to those with amblyopia. Your child should have an eye exam at 6 months, at age 3 and when they start school to ensure that their vision is developing properly. Amblyopia will not be corrected without treatment and the longer the condition is left without treatment, the higher the risk is for permanent damage to the eyes.

A refractive error that is causing amblyopia may also cause behaviors that could be mistaken for other developmental disorders. Your child may earn low scores on IQ tests, have trouble reaching for objects or crawling. Your doctor may note symptoms in your child that are similar to autism. An eye examination can help to determine if a vision problem is what is causing your child's behavior or if another condition will need to be addressed.

Treatments for Amblyopia

The type of treatment necessary to restore function to the lazy eye will vary based on what is causing the amblyopia.

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