WHAT IS AMBLYOPIA?

Amblyopia, known as “lazy eye” is a disease of the visual system characterized by partial or complete loss of vision in one eye or both eyes. Amblyopia is a consequence of a binocular vision disorder without an organic lesion.

It can be classified into:

  • Profound amblyopia - visual acuity of less than 10%;
  • Average amblyopia - visual acuity between 20% and 50%;
  • Mild amblyopia - visual acuity over 50%;

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF AMBLYOPIA?

Children can develop amblyopia from birth until the age of 6-7 years. Children with amblyopia do not realize they do not see well with one eye. Thus, the brain ignores the images from the impaired eye and only perceives the images in the healthy eye.

If diagnosed early, the chances of treatment are higher. There are several forms of amblyopia, but the most common is amblyopia accompanied by refractive errors (myopia, hyperopia and astigmatism) or by strabismus.

HOW TO TREAT AMBLYOPIA?

Functional amblyopia can be reversible if diagnosed and treated before the age of 6-7 years (according to recent research, even before age 12), before binocular reflex (visual balance between the two eyes) is established. Treatment is more effective if started earlier, the best results being obtained in children who have received adequate treatment before the age of 10 years. Early detection allows functional amblyopia to be diagnosed from early childhood. Besides adequate treatment of a cataract or palpebral ptosis for example, amblyopia treatment consists, first of all, in wearing appropriate dioptres, then in correcting the eye impaired by amblyopia.

The most commonly used technique consists in obstructing the healthy eye according to a scheme established by an ophthalmologist, in order to stimulate the visual acuity of the eye impaired by amblyopia. This occlusion should be monitored because normal eye can, in turn, become amblyopic as visual acuity of the other eye is restored, if the occlusion is too long. In case of strabismus, a surgery is often performed on the extraocular muscles to restore the parallelism of eye axes.

Amblyopia treatment is individualized (varies from case to case) and is indicated by an ophthalmologist that tracks and monitors the results.

WHAT CAUSES AMBLYOPIA?

  1. If there is an obstacle in the first weeks of life of the new born, (e.g. unilateral congenital cataract or other organic diseases) and, consequently, vision is not normally developed;
  2. In case that indication to wear spectacles prescribed by a doctor is not observed the consequence is: eyesight remains weak;
  3. Strabismus: the fixing eye with better visual acuity is mainly used by the brain, while the deviated eye is almost unused and becomes “lazy”;
  4. Anisometropia: represents the difference in refractive error between the two eyes and is the most common cause of amblyopia.

It should be known that this defect is not present at birth!

Amblyopia is installed progressively by neutralizing one eye, consequently it can be treated and prevented by diagnosis at a very young age and with a rapid correction of refractive errors by wearing glasses.

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