Amblyopia. Also called “lazy eye,” amblyopia is a vision development problem where one eye fails to attain normal visual acuity due to an eye turn (strabismus), imbalanced optical powers between the eyes or a combination of both.
Because amblyopia typically is a problem of infant vision development, symptoms of the condition can be difficult to discern.
However, a common cause of amblyopia is strabismus (or eye turn). So if you notice your baby or young child has crossed eyes or some other apparent eye misalignment, see an eye doctor immediately — preferably one who specializes in children’s vision.
Another clue that your child may have amblyopia is if he or she cries or fusses when you cover one eye.
Have your child’s eyes examined as recommended to make sure they has normal vision in both eyes and that the eyes function together properly as a team.
What causes amblyopia?
There are two main types of amblyopia:
- Strabismic amblyopia. Strabismus (or eye turn) is the most common cause of amblyopia. To avoid double vision caused by poorly aligned eyes, the brain ignores the visual input from the misaligned eye, leading to amblyopia in that eye (the “lazy eye”).
- Refractive amblyopia. Sometimes, amblyopia is caused by unequal refractive errors in the two eyes, despite perfect eye alignment. For example, one eye may have significant uncorrected nearsightedness or farsightedness, while the other eye does not. Or one eye may have significant astigmatism and the other eye does not. In such cases, the brain relies on the eye that see better and “turns off” the blurred vision from the other eye, causing amblyopia in that eye from disuse.
- Combined Strabismic / Refractive Amblyopia is a combination of the two main causes of amblyopia which occurs in about 30% of all patient with amblyopia
Amblyopia is treatable with vision therapy. To determine candidacy for vision therapy to help improve clear comfortable vision and amblyopia, a 2-hour Initial Assessment is completed. This testing is a critical appraisal of 12 visual skills related to visual performance, that goes far beyond the basic eye exam and 20/20 vision clarity; it assesses visual efficiency (eye focusing and teaming), reading eye movements and visual information processing (VIP) skills.
If two or more of these visual skills are significantly below normal then they are likely creating visual-anchors and reduced performance. These deficient visual skills are remedial with diligent effort with vision therapy that is doctor directed.